The Owensboro Black Expo has been working with local organizations to create a resource focused on encouraging growth and success for others. “The Black Pages” will offer an informative list of locally-owned businesses, services and organizations geared toward the local Black community.
Black Expo Secretary Martiza Meeks said the idea to create a go-to resource for business owners in the Black community had been discussed on a regular basis, but the agency recently teamed up with the Human Relations Commission and Owensboro’s NAACP Chapter to get the ball rolling.
The agencies heard testimony from Black community leaders, political candidates and youth via Zoom meetings. Over four days’ time they learned a lot, Meeks said.
“We want to support Black businesses in Owensboro, and we can do that by knowing who’s who and what’s what,” she said. “There’s things we could do to encourage their growth. We love the Black community and want to support them in every way we can.”
Meeks said it can be very difficult to get representation in a city of Owensboro’s size, especially when you make up a small percentage of the population.
In Meeks’ hometown of Chicago, she noticed the Black community there had put together a directory and list of businesses. Meeks said she wanted to see the Owensboro Black Expo step up their game — not only by creating The Black Pages, but by updating its website as well.
Meeks said the biggest obstacle facing the Black community lies in legitimizing businesses. She said many people have side hustles and side jobs, but their main priority focuses on their 9-5 job that pays the bills.
But if those side jobs could become legitimate, Meeks said, it would be a great start toward a new direction for the communities who often feel underrepresented.
“A lot of businesses aren’t official, and we want to legitimize your hustle. We’re trying to shift the hopelessness into hope,” Meeks said. “We’re looking to ignite something in our people, to find resources for them to fulfill their dreams.”
The Owensboro Black Expo is currently asking the community to list Black-owned businesses on the agency’s Facebook page. Once the list is complete, it will be made available to the public through social media and the Owensboro Black Expo’s updated website.