Black-owned businesses continue to thrive, provide opportunities for job growth

I spoke with a local leader in black tourism and a restaurant owner about how businesses are thriving, acting as a springboard for economic growth and job oppor
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 7:04 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to recognize the growth in Black-owned businesses in recent years. There are more than 1,300 in our own backyard, making Richmond a leader in Black business ownership.

As these businesses thrive, they act as a springboard for economic growth and job opportunities.

“With black contributions and the Richmond culture dating back for centuries, our restaurants, our communities, the legacy, it’s just continued to thrive here,” Tameka Jefferson said.

Jefferson is with Richmond Region Tourism’s initiative called BLK RVA.

It highlights our region’s Black culture in art, entertainment, food and history.

“We’re here to see the impact that these businesses have in our own backyard, from economic development to providing resources and jobs to people, even down to the youth. We want to see them succeed,” Jefferson said.

According to Census data, nearly 7% of businesses in the Richmond area are black-owned.

That’s the third-highest percentage in the U.S., tied with Atlanta.

“Black-owned business is booming,” Jefferson said. “New places are opening in our region down to Jackson Ward, to Brookland Park, and so every day it seems like a new ribbon cutting happening in our city.”

“Jackson Ward, in particular, it’s kind of an homage to the original Black Wall Street, the Harlem of the South as we are here in Richmond and Jackson Ward,” Owner of Cheddar Jackson, Brandon Jackson, said.

Jackson says his restaurant is a way to keep his family legacy alive.

“My grandmother, when she moved to the city from the country as a teenager, moved to Jackson Ward and made grilled cheeses, and so here I am, 90 years later, doing the same thing,” he said with a laugh.

Both Jackson and Jefferson say Black business ownership changed the game for tourism and hospitality in the city.

“With the black restaurant experience, there’s quite a bit of diversity. I mean, you’ve got places like us doing comfort. You’ve got Kelli over here with Urban Hang Suite with a coffee shop. We’ve got Ruby over on Brookland Park Boulevard doing ice cream. It’s such a wide variety. I’m very, very excited to be a part of it,” Jackson said.

While Black History Month is a great time to support these local Black-owned businesses, Jefferson says they need support 365 days a year.