Despite the challenging business conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Georgia actually saw a boost in Black-owned businesses.
Georgia experienced a 40 percent increase in Black-owned businesses between February 2020 and August 2021, according to census data, reported WXIA-TV 11 Alive.
There are about 300,000 Black businesses in the state, employing more than 9,000 workers, according to a report from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many of them are based in the metro Atlanta area.
“The pandemic has given a chance for people to just take a pause and think about other ways they can earn a living,” Terri Denison, Georgia district director with the Small Business Administration, told 11 Alive. “Especially in the African American community, we’re embracing more and more the idea of entrepreneurship as a primary career.”
There is a trend of younger people becoming business owners, according to Denison. The top-five types of new Black-owned businesses in metro Atlanta include: health care and social assistance, accommodation and food service, professional scientific and technical services (like tax and accounting services), personal services (like laundry, cosmetics) and retail and trade.
One hotspot for Black businesses in Georgia is the New Black Wall Street, a hub for nearly 50 registered businesses. Located in the city of Stonecrest, a suburb of metropolitan Atlanta, it houses a variety of businesses, from eateries and boutiques to hair salons and beauty supply stores. The site opened in Summer 2021, to honor the 100th anniversary of the destruction of the original Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, hundreds of Black residents of a Tulsa community were killed by white mobs, and the Black-owned businesses were burned down. The once-thriving community had been known as Black Wall Street.
The New Black Wall Street wants to duplicate the success.
“You can see African-American entrepreneurs thriving, doing well, working together, and that’s the message we want to send to the community,” Matthew Hampton, director of the New Black Wall Street, said. “One, we can work together, and two, we can work in excellence.”
New Black Wall Street also hosts the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, which offers workshops, educational programming, industry-specific resources and funding support for local entrepreneurs and businesses.