Black businesses attend local expo this weekend

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 19:00:09-05

When LaRese Purnell is not taking care of his financial duties at The Word Church, he's advising local black business owners on how to grow.

He said,”People are really struggling financially…I love to be able to give people advice and really help them.”

Since 2007, there’s been a resurgence of minority businesses.  In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported they grew 38 percent within 5 years.

“It’s really exciting due to the fact that we’re seeing all different types of businesses,” said Darrell Johnson, director at the Minority Business Assistance Center.

Here in Cleveland, there's more than 1,400 commerce with black owners, but business hasn’t always been booming.

Johnson said, “We lost a lot of opportunity in the early 2000s. I think with the economic collapse that a lot of people lost their businesses.”

Renay Fowler has been in business at her store, Fashions by Fowler, for nearly 30 years and knows all the ups and downs.

She said, “I’ve seen more businesses open, but also through the process we’ve seen a lot of businesses that have closed, so I mean it’s definitely a struggle.”

That's why Purnell decided to put on ‘The Real Black Friday’ expo this weekend, bringing some of those businesses together.

The main feature?  A documentary he recently saw that inspired him.

“The question that amazed me and really made me sit up in my seat was it said if you die today would you leave bills or benefits and that was such a profound, very simple question, but very real question, so when I saw that, I said I’m bringing that back to our community.”

He said his main goal for the expo is to educate and encourage young talent to become sustainable.

“I want to see people lift up,” he explained. “And a lot of times it’s a lack of education that you know is driving people even in hard times not to know how to position themselves for success financially."

The ‘Real Black Friday’ expo will be held on Sunday, right before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at The Word Church. It will house more than 150 local black businesses.