Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) rallied Austin businesses to push for success despite economic challenges during this month’s meeting of the Austin African American Business Network Association.
“Ask yourselves, what do I do for my community and what do I owe my community? And I think we’ll have a better outcome,” Taliaferro said at Friday morning’s gathering.
Taliaferro encouraged business owners to continue to ban together through the AAABNA, saying that oftentimes if owners only wait for success to come to them, things will never change. Businesses need to take an active role in the betterment of their own communities, he said.
“One of the most important facets of community growth is the businesses. They hire from the community, they thrive in the community. Our seniors, our residents, our businesses are all apart of things that help us grow. We owe one another the respect of allowing our businesses to thrive.”
The AAABNA meets monthly at the Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, at 5820 W. Chicago Ave., to provide informational support and develop strategies to develop Austin. During the monthly meetings, owners and community members are encouraged to conduct business with each other to spark community growth and share information ranging from above-ground plumbing requirements to zoning processes.
Letrusia May, owner of L. May Creations and an AAABNA member, spoke about her experience applying for and eventually securing a Retail Thrive Zone business development grant, which she was approved for in 2017.
May is using the grant – about $151,000 – to construct her jewelry shop in at 5936 W. Chicago Ave. She offered to assist other business owners interested in applying for a city grant.
Her previous occupation gave her experience handling paperwork, which allowed her to navigate the process – one that could be challenging for others who’ve not had that experience.
AAABNA Executive Director Malcolm Crawford said the monthly meetings serve as a sort of support group because oftentimes, creating a business can be isolating, and it is powerful to know that others are having similar experiences.
“The AAABNA meetings are meant to inform and empower,” Crawford said. “It’s not information that is wavering, it is information that comes from people who have been through the processes.”