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'Move the needle on closing the gap': Entrepreneurship program helps grow African American businesses in Cleveland

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 18:04:14-05

CLEVELAND — The Presidents’ Council continues to push for diversity and inclusion by advocating for African American entrepreneurs.

"We remain steadfast and immovable in our commitment to black business success,” said Executive Director of The Presidents’ Council, Erica C. Penick.

Penick said that she grew tired of the opportunity imbalance, as it relates to African Americans.

“Successful businesses and thriving communities are inextricably linked,” said Penick. “The only way we can do that is providing generational wealth. Move the needle on closing the gaps. Not just on wealth disparities, but health, education, incarceration."

The U.S. Small Business Administration found of the 2.6 million black-owned businesses in this country in 2016—only 4% had paid employees.

The council's Excellence in Entrepreneurship program is meant to help strengthen and grow Cleveland’s black business owners, like Sandra Madison.

"I think it's important that we give back and help people who are trying to get from A to B," said Madison.

Madison is the CEO of Robert P. Madison International, the first Black-owned architect firm in Ohio.

Her firm was involved in buildings large and small like: Karamu House, CMSD's Booker K-8 school, and the Jack Casino.

The Presidents’ Council helps businesses like Madison’s by injecting them with human capital—totaling more than $150,000 worth over the last two years to 30 black business.

"As we do better, our communities do better, as our communities do better our lives are enriched. And if that happens, then generations beyond us will see the benefits created," said Eddie Taylor, President and Owner of Taylor Oswald insurance firm.

"Our community is based on shared struggles,” said Penick. "We have to build our own future, we have to employ ourselves."

Here is a link to connect with The Presidents’ Council.