Impeccable attire, gleam in the eyes and a smile that lights up an entire room. No, it’s not Denzel; it is James Parker a young man on a mission. Parker is president of P.M. Ideas, Inc. a black-owned marketing business.
“My father was in the military so I traveled all over,” Parker recalled. “I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska. I graduated from high school in Germany. I came right from Germany to Chicago in 1988. This is where I met my wife. I’m married and have two children and have one on the way [wife Kesha, daughter Ciera, 12, and son Cameron, 4]. I started school at DeVry Institute in their business operation, and I transferred later to DePaul University, majoring in communications and marketing. I soon decided to start my own business.
“I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit. The first business I started with a friend of mine was a production company where we wrote and produced music. Then more recently I started a company called Obstruction Concepts Inc. We do computer training, life skills training for at-risk youths, foster kids, pregnant parenting teens, adults from low-income areas and soon adults and children with disabilities. We did training in Philadelphia for single parents, single moms, and we recently did a contract in November with DCFS with 15 kids. We did computer training, and gave them all refurbished laptop computers. We just got a contract with Dell and Gateway, so now the youths get brand new computers, brand new Dells. We hopefully will be doing some things here with Jobs for Youths and some other organizations that works with kids. We’d love to do some things with prisoner outreach. We might partner with a North Lawndale, which would be great, meaning they go through their program, then they go through our program and get a free computer. Then they can become more computer savvy and perhaps start their own business, or go to school on-line.
“Through my relationship with Malcolm Crawford, president of the African American Business Network, I’m starting to make connections. A lot of our businesses that are already registered with us are on the South Side, so we didn’t want this to be a South Side black business directory. We want it to be everywhere, all of the black-owned businesses, not only in the city but the suburbs too. And we wanted the Westside businesses to be a part of it, so Malcolm invited me to speak during their last networking meeting.
“P.M. Ideas, Inc. is an advertising and marketing company, what we created is GoBlackBiz.com, an opportunity for African-American/black-owned businesses to be in a directory [where] African Americans can find them and spend their money with black-owned businesses. In 2003, African Americans spent $656 billion in goods and services. And our goal is to connect those African-American consumers with the black-owned business and put money back into the community.
“We created the ‘Black Card.’ The Black Card is a membership card. It’s only $8, but the membership card gives you discounts at all the businesses in the directory. And 20 percent of all Black Card sales (basically $1.60 out of every card we sell) goes right back into that community. Let’s say Austin has 100,000 people. If everyone in Austin bought a Black Card. That would be roughly $800,000″20 percent of that would be about $160,000, which would go right back into the community. And the goal is to create computer centers for the youth and adults who want to learn computers, create a sanctuary for the elderly and a place where they can go and talk to people about life as they learned it. And also develop ways to make the community more progressive or safer. It’s really up to the community leaders. But what we would do is present a check to the community leaders. It would be a huge thing because when they buy this card, they are giving back to the Austin community.
“Some statistics: Chicago has a population of about 2.9 million people. African Americans make up about 1.1 million. In one community last year, they spent $11 million in Lottery tickets”not 1.1 African Americans, one community. Our goal is that when you purchase your Black Card, we want you to understand that money goes back into your community. We know we can’t compete with the Lottery. If you can spend $11 million on Lottery tickets, then surely you can put money back into your community. When you buy a Black Card, that shows that you support your community, you support black-owned businesses and you support education, because a portion of that money also goes toward creating a scholarship fund for that community.
“The only way to get the Black Card is to order it, because we don’t want someone out on the street making the cards and selling them”people thinking they bought that card, only to find out that is not the right one. So the only way to get it is to order it. We don’t want people getting hurt. In the future, we will create authorized card dealers. Meaning there will be a place on the West Side where you go and buy your Black Card because we know everybody doesn’t want to mail in, etc.
“I used to work downtown as a waiter and so many black people would come in and wanted to know where are the black businesses. Now they can go to their hotel rooms, get on-line, type in “GoBlackBiz.com” and be able to find all the black-owned businesses.
“We’ll be in Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee by the end of the year. The key is to connect all the black-owned businesses.
James Parker is a man on a mission. To check out this company, go to: www.pmideasinc.com, GoBlackBiz.com, phone 312/895-5466 or 773/612-1478 or write to 207 E. Ohio, Suite 241, Chicago 60611.