Inaugural Champ City Black Business Month hits Springfield

This year, Springfield is celebrating Black Business Month by both highlighting ongoing events that uplift and highlight black-owned businesses and providing new events to promote black-owned business growth and development.

"With the emergence of the Young Black Professionals (and Businesses of Springfield) and the Community Navigators program (in Springfield), there's a lot of economic focus related to our community, so we felt it was time to launch our own facet of Black Business Month, calling it Champ City Black Business Month," says Camille Hall, co-director of YBPBS, a Community Navigator, and one of the organizers of the inaugural month's worth of events. 

Hall says with Springfield being known as The Champion City and champions being people who are celebrated, organizers wanted to play off that for this month's events.

"Black Business Month is an opportunity to celebrate and uplift the black businesses here in our city, and the hope is through that celebration we get in the habit of celebrating all businesses in our city," she says. 

Looking at black-owned businesses in a different light can help people reframe why its important to support them, Hall says. Black-owned businesses, she says, can have the same kind of cultural significance as businesses located in, for example, a Chinatown or German Village located in other cities. 

"There is an educational opportunity here to reframe people's mindset about black-owned businesses and how they're viewed. It could be, 'Let me go check out these black-owned businesses as cultural businesses.' When I say refreshing the mindset, I mean to look at black businesses in the same light," Hall says. "Minority businesses make up about 10 percent of small busiensses nationally, and about 30 percent of those are black-owned. When we think on a larger scale, it's not that many, so really it's a smaller community that needs uplifted and celebrated."

In addition to celebrating black-owned businesses, Black Business Month is about supporting black business owners. Hall and other organizers of the local Black Business Month have also planned virtual marketing classes, events about business funding, networking get togethers, and more.

To find more details about each event listed in the Champ City Black Business Month promotion, search the hashtage #ChampCityBlackBizMonth on Facebook

"The City of Springfield has a mantra - forward together - and I strongly believe that with that mantra needs to be action, because without action, it's just words," Hall says. "When we show support and uplift the marginalized segments of our community, it puts that mantra into true action.

"That's what it's really about, is working toward a common goal of a better community, a more fair community, a more equitable community."
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Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.