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The Community Voice newspaper and the new Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce are on a mission to grow the economic health of Wichita’s African-American community and their focus is on growing Black Businesses. 

Economists have proven a connection between the economic health of a community and the amount of money spent in the businesses within that community by its residents.  In other words, and we all know it, we can’t have an economically strong community if all of our money is spent outside our community. 

“If we increase the amount of money spent with Black Businesses the entire community benefits,” says Bernard Knowles, president of the recently formed Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce. 

That’s why Knowles and the Heartland Chamber are partnering with The Community Voice to produce a bigger and better 2016 Black Business directory.  The joint goal this year is to identify and double the number of businesses included in the directory. 

Last year the directory included a little less than 200 Black businesses, churches and community organizations.  Working together, we hope to double or even triple the number of listings in the directory, because a more complete directory makes a better resource to help grow the community. 

Listings in the directory are not free, but at $20, they’re just about free and one of the cheapest forms of advertising a business can buy.  The small fee helps cover the costs of compiling, printing and distributing the directory at no costs to our readers, and this year, a portion of the money collected will benefit the chamber to help them with their programming designed to help strengthen community businesses. 

A conservative estimate of the buying power of Wichita’s African-American Community is in excess of $500 million annually.  Nationally, the Black community only spends about 10% of its money within the community.  I hope our spending is that good in Wichita, but whatever our numbers are, we hope to improve them.  We have to, because we know that money spent with Black businesses has a doubling effect, creating even more flow of money into the community when these Black-business owners support community organizations, other Black businesses and employ Black workers. 

“On average about 70% of the workforce of a Black-owned business is Black,” for example, says Thomas D. Boston, a professor of Economics at Georgia Tech. “And for every $100,000 of revenue that a Black-owned business generates, that accounts for one additional job in that city.” So, “when you are supporting those businesses, you are also helping to provide employment within the Black community.”

So, the process starts with getting businesses listed. 

If you’re a small business owner, especially small service providers who offer services our community can readily use, get your business listed. 

Even if you’re a businesses that provides services to other businesses versus individual consumers, get listed.  Our readers work for businesses who might need your product and we also distribute our directory to purchasing agencies of local businesses. 

If you’re a church or community organization, you need to get listed.  New people to town or existing people looking to expand their connections may be looking for just what you are or have to offer. 

You can list your business online at www.voiceitwichita.com, with any Heartland Chamber member or stop by our office at 2918 E. Douglas, Wichita.  The deadline for listing is Dec. 7, 2015.  Distribution of the directory begins King Holiday weekend 2016.  

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