Black-owned businesses are being recognized for their value, presence

Camille Hall has made it part of her mission as the director of the Young Black Professionals and Businesses of Springfield to make sure that local Black entrepreneurs know they are seen and appreciated.

Hall and her sister Kanesha Scott, co-director of YBPBS, started the organization in 2019 to create a way to connect Black-owned businesses and professionals in greater Springfield.

“I saw that there wasn’t a network for young black professionals and businesses in Springfield area to connect, so myself and my sister put our minds together, and that’s how the organization as started in 2019,” Hall says. “The purpose is to be a social and professional network for young black professionals in the Springfield region.”

Since it’s inception, one of the organization’s goals has been to build a directory of local Black-owned businesses – both home businesses and storefronts – that lives on the website. Hall says there are about 30 businesses within the directory so far, and they are always looking to add more as people continue to reach out.

Earlier this year, Hall says YBPBS started recognizing Black-owned brick and mortar businesses with certificates of acknowledgement.

“The idea behind the certificates of acknowledgement of brick and mortars is just that, for anyone, getting a brick and mortar storefront as a business is quite an accomplishment, especially as a small business with local brands,” Hall says. “It’s very important that we support them and uplift them and celebrate them. And then even more so with the barriers in place historically that the African American community has been had put in front of them.

“We really wanted to use this as a moment that – yes this is just a paper certificate – but to use this as a moment to acknowledge them and that we’re proud of them.”

Hall says they are only partway through their current list of businesses that will be presented with certificates and that the certificates will be an ongoing part of what YBPBS does to support the community.

“Most of us want to feel that we’re seen, and I think that with just being part of the Black community and being able to be seen and acknowledged with how they fit into the fabric of Springfield is important,” Hall says. “It’s important to acknowledge that they are a part of that fabric that melds us all together.

“And moreover, that they were able to stay afloat and stay open during a pandemic. That in itself is commendable.”

Since 2019, Hall says the organization has held general body meetings, some social events, and a variety of virtual forums when gathering in person wasn’t possible because of the pandemic. She says YBPBS working back into having more in-person events, and recently hosted a successful Trunk or Treat event.

"The goal for the future is to continue to grow the organization and raise awareness about it and about this social network we’re trying to build,” Hall says. “We’re also working to formalize the organization as a non-profit to be able to get into more types of service work so that we are not only gathering people around a shared idea, but also around service to the community and as a resource, where needed.”

On Nov. 10, YBPBS is hosting a Network to Net Worth event for local individuals interested in networking with other Black and minority-owned businesses. Details about the event can be found on Facebook.

As a Springfield native, Hall says she’s deeply invested in the city, and she’s dedicated to continuing to put in the work to support Black business owners.

“I’m a strong believer in contributing to create the reality you wish to exist,” Hall says. “The slogan I live by is, ‘I will do what I can while I’m here,’ and I believe we should make the most of our time here and leave behind positivity.

“It’s very humbling to be thought of in a community leader in that way.”

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.

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