Indiana sees growing number of Black-owned businesses, but challenges remain

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Officials say the number of Black-owned businesses in Indiana has grown significantly since the pandemic began.

The Indy Black Chamber of Commerce has seen a 40% increase in new members since the end of last year, according to board chair Anita Williams.

Nationwide, the number of Black-owned businesses has grown 60% since the pandemic began, Williams added.

Some factors behind the growth include career changes due to the pandemic and increased awareness of minority-owned businesses, she added.

“I think it’s great, and I’m hoping that these businesses are able to be sustained,” said Rannette Archer, founder of August Gill Apparel, an online clothing business.

“Really the idea behind my brand is to inspire conversation,” she added.

Archer said she started the business in September 2020, a few months after she left a job where she faced racial discrimination.

“I started it as a way to rediscover who I was,” she said.

Although the number of Black-owned businesses is growing in Indiana, challenges remain.

According to experts from Indiana University, 4% of businesses in Marion County have Black owners, even though 25% of Marion County’s population is Black.

“People of color are still looking for financing, for information,” Williams said.

The Indy Black Chamber of Commerce is working to keep the growth in Black-owned businesses going by educating current and prospective business owners about best practices and urging banks and other organizations to provide needed financial assistance, Williams said.

According to Williams, she and others are working to launch Indiana’s first statewide chamber of commerce specifically for Black-owned businesses.

“All they need is to believe they can do it,” Williams said. “To be encouraged that they can do it and know that they are welcomed to do it.”

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