According to Target Market News, African Americans in the year 2003 accounted for $632 billion of the gross domestic product in the United States. African Americans in the greater Chicago area accounted for $16-18 billion. These numbers are staggering.

Upon doing research with the Austin African American Business Networking Association, we found that the Austin community, having the largest concentration of African Americans in the city of Chicago, according to the 2000 census, also has access to dollars. According to Applied Geographic Solution, 10 percent of Austin residents have incomes of more than $50,000, and another 10 percent have an income of $75,000 dollars. There are also those whose incomes exceed $100,000.

During this research, I began to understand why every other nationality runs to Austin to set up shop. These groups, armed with information, know that this is by no means an impoverished community. The fact that 94 percent of Austin residents spend their money with other races makes Austin, and its majority African-American population, a virtual gold mine.

A wise man once said that the hardest thing to see sometimes is the thing that is closest to your face. We have to begin to seek out those businesses in the community that are doing a good job and offering us good services. We also have to be willing to give businesses that we have walked away from another chance. We have to be willing to inform our business owners as to why we are pleased or displeased, and understand that sometimes things happen. I have found that sometimes a letter is a good way to express what you are thinking without being misunderstood.

There are a lot of people who would be more than willing to shop with black businesses, but we as business owners must develop a pride that is unmatched about our products and services. We must let people know that we are black-owned and be proud to fly our colors:

? Red for the blood that we’ve shed

? Black for our beautiful skin

? Green for the land of Africa

I believe that Marcus Garvey said it best when he stated, “Show me a people without a flag and I’ll show you someone with no pride.” This is not anything new. Just go to Little Italy or Chinatown or Greektown or the Ukrainian village, etc. I believe that these business areas flourish because of their rich ethnic pride.

So as we began to gear up for the summer, let us as business owners show our pride by flying the red, black, and green as our symbols so that those who want to shop with African Americans will know where they can go.