TEMPLE, Texas — Nationally, as of the latest census data release, there were 3.12 million Black-owned businesses in the United States, generating $206 billion in annual revenue and supporting 3.56 million U.S. jobs. But just like for everyone, the pandemic hit small businesses hard and 6 News spoke to a few local entrepreneurs to get the real scoop on how hard it is.
Khandiese Cooper is a small business owner and is a charter member of the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce in Killeen. Her photography business has been growing, but just like everyone, the pandemic made things difficult, especially for a place like Killeen.
"With Fort Hood being our neighbor our conjoined twin, so to speak, and that's all you kind of hear about and the involvement and the heavy things that are going on there," said Cooper. "But we don't have industry in the City of Killeen and so it's important that we take this opportunity and say, 'What do we have?' If Killeen has anything we have ‘people capital’ and so it's how do we hone in on using the resources that we do have, and again that is people.
Small business has always been the engine of America, it has kept our unemployment levels down and in good times these businesses have thrived.
For Black women in the past decade, starting up that dream has become a reality. Cooper explained further, “It may be the P-C thing to do, supporting Black owned businesses female owned businesses. Since 2014 Black women businesses have, more businesses have been opened by, I want to say 315% by Black women entrepreneurs.
One of those businesses is by Marquita Frank who opened “T-Town Energy and Nutrition” in downtown Temple. She opened one year ago and now has taken the next step to sell food becoming J & M's Dogs and Paninis.
"When we first opened the first business a year ago, we saw a huge burst of revenue, a huge burst of income right throughout the summer and everything and everything was great and then all of a sudden it was as if, you know when school got back in session it was kind of like, boom," said Frank. "Everything stopped and completely went dead."
Houston has the most Black owned businesses in the state of Texas, tying with Miami at 18th in the nation, according to LendingTree.com. But when you figure that there were 22 members of the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce in Killeen when it started in February before the pandemic shutdown, and it's now over 100 members, post COVID-19, Bell Counties Black small business ownership appears to be booming.
Khandiese explained saying, "You just have to promote and you have to market and you have to use your chamber members, as examples. In my business personally, I’m a professional photographer, and owner of Kinetic Images, and the information that I received from the chamber there was so much that I didn't realize, that I was missing out on."
Tomorrow night we'll talk about the not only the challenges that these business owners face, but what the future might hold. Don't miss part two tomorrow night on KCEN at 10:00pm.
Also on KCENTV.com: