Why not? I am certain that Black people in the "Music City" contribute quite handsomely to the city's general economy.
So why shouldn't Black people have a business organization that advocates on their behalf on a
A Chamber of Commerce enhances a business person's ability to do business.
A Chamber provides access to potential business; it develops cost-saving's programs; it collects and disseminates information on market trends; and, a Chamber of Commerce is an unwavering advocate for its members.
So why start a Black Chamber of Commerce in Nashville? It's the good
news/bad news scenario. From 1987 through 1992, the number of African American businesses grew by 46%; the national average growth was 26%.
During that same period, however, the revenues for African American businesses were dismal.
In 1992, African American firms averaged $52,000 in revenue per year or 27% of the national average, which was $193,000.
To make it even worse, 56% of those black-owned companies had revenues under $10,000 and only 3,000 had more than $1,000,000 in annual sales.
Why a Black Chamber of Commerce? Simply put, it's good for business -- for the black community and for the Greater Nashville community as a whole
- because when the Black business and consumer segment do well, the general market does even better.
A brief look at recent African American history gives us an even clearer picture of the need for our own Chambers of Commerce.
In 1900, when Booker T. Washington established the National Negro Business League (NNBL), essentially the first organized Black Chamber of Commerce in the United States, the members of that organization envisioned prosperity through collective economic power and mutual support. for their businesses.
At the first meeting of the NNBL, Fred Moore, organizer for the league, said: "All [league] business enterprises should be supported.
How else can we expect to be respected.. if we do not begin to practice what a great many of us preach?
How can we otherwise succeed? Some would say that this was drawing the color line.
I do not believe it. Jews support Jews, Germans support Germans; Italians support Italians until they get strong enough to compete with their
brother in the professions and trades; Negroes should now begin to support Negroes... The white man would respect Negroes if they were organized in support of each other and thus, demonstrated faith in the capacity of the race.
Instead of constantly appealing to whites Negroes should create their own opportunities.
What a mighty power we shall be when we begin this, and we shall never be a mighty power until we do begin. "
Unfortunately, Moore's words still apply today, nearly 100 years later. Our ancestors knew the importance of organizations such as Black Chambers of Commerce.
Why have not more of us learned the lessons they tried to teach us? Are black people really the Reluctant Entrepreneurs that Joel Kotkin wrote about in 1986?
Or, does it go deeper than that?
Part of the answer lies in John Sibley Butler's excellent work, Entrepreneurship and
Self-Help Among Black Americans, in which he refers to a term that developed in the 1930's: Economic Detour.
According to Butler, "The idea of economic detour is that Afro-Americans, especially in the period following the Civil war, were restricted by law (Jim Crow) from operating their business enterprises in an open market."
The overall marketplace applied only to Afro-Americans."
Thus, Black Business Leagues and Black Chambers of Commerce, of which there were 40 in this country as early as 1938, were established to encourage
self-help via business development and mutual support.
Did you know that in Tennessee/Middle Tennessee and Nashville/Davidson
County? - -
in the State of Tennessee, there are 14,920 African American owned businesses.
Of those firms, they generate nearly $556 million in sales revenue.
In Davidson County, the African American community represents 23.4% of the total population:
There are approximately 47,329 African
American-headed households in Davidson County.
In Davidson County, the African American community generates $1.2 billion in total wages and salaries.
In the Nashville (MSA), the African American community generates $1.59 billion in total wages and salaries.
In Davidson County, the African American community has a disposable income of a little more than $1 billion.
In the Nashville (MSA), the African American community has a disposable income of $1.283 billion.
So, - -
why don't we need the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce?