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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown addresses the crowd.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown addresses the crowd.

New initiative to support Black-owned businesses

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Mon, Nov 23rd 2020 11:35 am

AT&T, City of Buffalo aid black businesses this holiday season in ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week’

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown recently announced a new initiative to drive consumers to Black-owned businesses in the Queen City this holiday season. From Dec. 4-11, the City of Buffalo and AT&T present “Buy Black Buffalo Week,” a citywide shopping movement to support Black-owned businesses, especially ones that have suffered economic challenges due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. The Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center is coordinating the eight-day event.

“Buy Black Buffalo Week” encourages Western New Yorkers to explore Black-owned businesses as they shop local this holiday season, especially those impacted the most by the pandemic.

The announcement came outside of Ms. Eye Candy Boutique on Allen Street, where both sponsors and supporters gathered.

Participating businesses will receive several benefits, including the “Holiday Season Seminar,” a virtual technical assistance session made possible with support from M&T Bank, which will assist entrepreneurs to prepare for an online shopping increase due to COVID-19 limitations.

The seminar will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24. In addition, participating businesses will be featured online and through traditional marketing, as well as receive a marketing package. Black entrepreneurs are encouraged to register their business right away for “Buy Black Buffalo Week.” To register, go to www.Buyblackbuffalo.com.

“My administration continues its commitment to helping those who need it most during these difficult times, and that includes our Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs,” Brown said. “Our Black-owned businesses play an important role in our city’s economic success and we recognize that many of them have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week’ will build on my other initiatives to assist Black business owners, and further prepare them for increased online shoppers this holiday season, while showcasing some of the region’s unique goods and services.”

To jumpstart the initiative, Ms. Eye Candy Boutique and Get Fokus’d Productions are hosting a student art contest. Starting today, Buffalo Public School students can participate in the “Buy Black Buffalo Week” art challenge, where students in grades 8-12 will have 72 hours to submit a visual art design that displays what the theme for this year’s week – “Stronger Together” – means to them. The winner of the challenge will have their image featured on a postcard, sponsored by National Grid, and win a $100 grand prize. Shoppers can collect the unique artwork at participating businesses. Submission details are available at buyblackbuffalo.com

“National Grid is a company that celebrates our full diversity of talent and being inclusive, which takes everyone from all backgrounds to work together and make sure that we get the best out of each other,” National Grid Regional Director Ken Kujawa said. “We have long worked closely with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on a variety of initiatives and appreciate this new opportunity to support the ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week’ poster contest and – through funding that we are providing – are setting the foundation to encourage participating retailers to become members of Buffalo Niagara Partnership. We also encourage the support of Black-owned businesses beyond the week of Dec. 4. That’s because so many small businesses play a vital role as strengthening the economies in the communities where we live and work.”

A press release stated, “Following the death of George Floyd and in the wake of social justice and racial equity movements this year, shoppers in our region and nationwide sought out Black-owned businesses to support. (Through) ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week,’ in partnership with That Brown Bag Minority Business Directory, shoppers can access a comprehensive database of businesses online.

“Past studies show that the dollar circulates zero to one time within the black community, compared to the more than 6-9 times the dollar circulates within other demographics,” said Shantelle Patton, owner of That Brown Bag Minority Business Directory. “In order for our community to see a shift in this financial circulatory system, we must start with an outpour of support for ourselves. Supporting a Black-owned business is supporting your neighbor’s dreams. We are stronger together than apart and, with the ‘Buy Black’ initiative, all those involved will get to play an integral part of the spark that changes that narrative in the community in which we live from surviving to thriving.”

The press release noted, “Shoppers will experience some of Buffalo’s best retail, professional services, restaurants and cultural spaces. Additionally, they will enter unique shops, galleries, offices and online stores owned by some of Buffalo’s most talented professionals and creatives. Throughout the week, many businesses will offer various specials and promotions. In partnership with AT&T, Buffalo is now one of several innovative cities across the U.S. offering a weeklong event to celebrate and support black-owned businesses.”

“AT&T is honored to support the inaugural ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week’ as it aligns with our company’s longstanding commitment to working with and assisting black-owned and other diverse businesses to achieve economic success, while celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion in our community,” said Amy Kramer, New York president, AT&T. “As a company connecting people and businesses for more than 100 years, we are thrilled to help promote and showcase so many amazing locally owned businesses in the Queen City. I applaud the tireless organizers, the City of Buffalo and Mayor Brown for their vision and hard work in establishing ‘Buy Black Buffalo Week,’ and I encourage everyone to take part and support these local businesses.”

“Buy Black Buffalo Week” is presented by the City of Buffalo and AT&T with support from M&T Bank, National Grid, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Urban League of Young Professionals, and Get Fokus’d Productions. Registration for “Buy Black Buffalo Week” is open now through Nov. 28. Business owners who wish to participate can register online upon reviewing the eligibility requirements. A complete list of participating businesses will be available to view online by kickoff day on Dec. 4. For more information about “Buy Black Buffalo Week,” or the art challenge, visit buyblackbuffalo.com.

AT&T’s support and involvement in “Buy Black Buffalo Week” grows out of the company’s culture of dedication and commitment to diversity, inclusion and empowerment, both internally throughout the company and externally within the communities it serves across the country.

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