Working With What's Here:
Much has been lost, but the true issue is the number of emerging Black businesses that don't receive recognition, said Doris Carson Williams, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania.
An analysis of the 2007 National Survey of Business done by Carnegie Mellon University professor Harold Miller notes that the Pittsburgh region had 6,101 Black-owned firms, the fifth smallest amount of 38 metropolitan areas analyzed.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh's Black-owned companies did have an average of 10.7 workers, the 12th highest among the 38 regions studied.
The businesses averaged $1.2 million in annual sales, the seventh highest average among regions studied.
Noting that the African-American chamber features 511 member businesses — 78 percent of which are Black-owned — Carson Williams said greater use of the chamber's database, the Black Business Directory, the minority purchasing council and the Allegheny Conference, a community development group, can steer people toward Black-owned attorneys, engineers and other professionals.
Even without organized efforts, Carson Williams said if all groups support Black businesses in Pittsburgh and across the country, the expanding economy would ultimately benefit all.
“As Black business owners, we all know each other and need to hold each other up higher, and the majority community is needed to be as supportive of us as we are of them,” she said.