Oakland's Black Wall Street District Gains More Businesses

BWSMA's general goals include 1000 new jobs by 2007, 200 new Black owned businesses by 2008, $12 Billion Dollar black business district by 2009

By The Oakland Bureau

The Black Wall Street business District (www. blackwallstreet.org) in Oakland is growing and tapping into the econnomic power of the San Francisco Bay Area's 504,000 African Americans.

The group has organized Black-owned businesses along International Boulevard from 45th Avenue to city San Leandro.

"In 2004, 13 new black businesses opened up along the International Boulevard (E 14th St.) corridor with great succsess, including 44 new full-time jobs.' Said Rev. Michael Carter, Sr., BWSMA's co-founder and board chairman of the organization that urges Blacks to buy Black.

The growth is exciting to many African American Merchants in the area. One of those long-time merchants includes Eugene Johnson, owner of the Urban Cyclery Center and Vice-Chair of the Black Wall Street Merchants New Business Project committee.

Commenting on the 2005 New Business Project, Johnson Said "it's about time we make a serious effort like those blacks in the South and build black communities and leave successful businesses to our children."

The Black Wall Street Merchants Association serves as an advocate for commerce in the African American community, that promotes ethics, and that seeks to preserve the economic growth, social and cultural vitality of the community.

BWSMA's general goals include 1000 new jobs by 2007, 200 new Black owned businesses by 2008, $12 Billion Dollar black business district by 2009, and enhance practical means of bringing its members in touch with prospective business.

"The BWSMA's work plan is based on service and advocacy. Ensure member's investment is returned in direct services that promote, market, and support the districts and individual businesses. Advocate effectively for the implementation of the policies essential to the continued revitalization." said Carter, Sr.

"Other goals include encouraging trade expansion for the benefit of Black Wall Street Merchants and maintain effective merchant advertising through collective media resources. We aim to Increase public and private investment in The Black Wall Street Business District that will retain and attract retail, office, housing, services, and cultural activities, create jobs, provide income to business and tax revenue to the City of Oakland." he said.

There is also a drive by the merchants to improve the retail mix; clean and safe streets; and improved transportation and parking.

Projects are executed by volunteers and staff. Encourage design which welcomes people, preserves and enhances historic buildings, and promotes visual interest and economic vitality of the Black Wall Street business District.

The Black Wall Street Merchants Association's 2005 New Business campaign is designed to invite California-based Black businesses to locate or relocate to available commercial spaces from 45th Avenue to city line bound by International Boulevard to meet the needs of the African American community.

The new businesses that answered 2004's new business project efforts include Boost Mobile Center , Creative Reflections Barber Shop, Cuts N Stuff , Dellas Consignment Shop, DeVine Designs Beauty Shop , Magic Johnson/HP Inventor Center, Makardor African Braid, Munchies , Pepper Cuts , Razor Sharp Barber Shop, and T-Shirt Hut.

Lamont Wade, New Business Project representative for the Black Wall Street Merchants Association says "There are currently 52 available properties which include both office space, lofts and retail. People are logging on to www.BlackWallStreet.org to view available properties." "Right now there are 41 prospective black businesses considering many retail sites, with another 90 showing serious interest in moving here." Wade said.

Merchant health care is also a issue for the organization.

"Millions of employed Americans are uninsured and unable to get medical care. Forty-one percent of uninsured adults are unable to see a doctor when needed due to cost, fifty-six percent of adults without health care coverage say they do not have a personal doctor or healthier provider and twenty percent say their health is fair or poor" stated Glenda McComb, Health Director for Black Wall Street Merchants Association and Deputy Director of Healthy Oakland.

"Healthy Oakland wanted to do something to assist small business owners and its employees; therefore we created a Small Business Health Program that is low-cost and access to health care can be obtained at the Save A Life Wellness Center at 2580 San Pablo Avenue", explained Pastor Raymond Lankford, Executive Director of Healthy Oakland.

Business owners or their employees may call (510) 444-9155 with questions or to request a health program packet. Or sign up online at www. blackwallstreet.org.