VALDOSTA – Several Black-owned businesses gathered downtown at the Old Courthouse Square recently. While all of the owners brought different goods and services to the table, they had one common goal.
According to organizers, the Black Business Showcase was an “opportunity to increase equity and a space for Black businesses to be celebrated and showcase their work, while supporting their peer business owners.”
“If the month of February is known generally as a slower time for small businesses, imagine how the post-holiday lull is exacerbated amongst our Black-owned businesses. Part of our challenge has been knowing where our peer Black business owners are located and what products or services they offer so that we may do business with them and/or partner,” said DeWayne Johnson, organizer of the Black Business Showcase. “That is exactly what the Black Business Showcase is aiming to bring equity toward.”
He added the showcase was an opportunity for Black business owners to become better acquainted with one another and appropriately be celebrated during Black History Month.
“There are more Black-owned businesses in the City of Valdosta and our surrounding area than people realize are represented,” Johnson said. “This is a time for us to showcase the various businesses that we are operating and the exceptional products and services that we offer.”
Eric Vinson, owner of Dreaming Wild Photography, visited the event with his wife. He said he is interested and looking forward to participating in the next showcase, according to the statement from organizers.
“I thought it was well put together and it was a great step for Black business owners and the community to interact. This is well needed to facilitate the growth of our local Black business community,” Vinson said.
Black-owned businesses that attended included categories such as mental health, fitness, property management, artistic woodwork, tax preparation and pressure washing. Participating businesses had the opportunity to become listed on www.valdostablackowned.com, which is the Valdosta-Lowndes metropolitan area’s only online database listing of Black-owned businesses.
“We were able to make connections with other business owners, and the impact of meeting you all was a really genuine experience. We really look forward to meeting with you all again soon,” Immanuel Kirkland, Sculpt 24 general manager, said.
Charles Gloster, who is the owner of Sculpt 24 Fitness, acquired the gym in December 2020. Sculpt 24 Fitness is the best gym in Georgia for 2021 as identified by the Georgia Business Journal.
Other participants responded with elation about the Black Business Showcase, organizers said.
“I thought it was great. I was able to put some names with some faces, network, and offer information about the services provided by my agency, as well as the other agencies within the Mental Wealth Center,” said Dr. Demetria Hill, business owner.
This was the first year of the Black Business Showcase and organizers said the community can expect more to come.
“The showcase was outstanding. I received much awareness and information and I plan to continue to use the information that I obtained and support my fellow entrepreneurs. We must continue this,” Valdosta City Councilwoman Sandra Tooley said.