The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delivered a major shock to the business community. However, no sector of the economy has been disproportionately hurt more than Black-owned businesses. According to Bloomberg, the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic triggered a 41 percent decline in black-owned businesses nationally in 2020.
That impact and the fragile financial state of many local Black-owned businesses has been a major concern of the African American Advisory Committee (AAAC) at the Flint & Genesee Chamber.
Inside Business (IB) caught up with AAAC chair Bryant Nolden and Chamber representative Adrian Walker for a brief discussion of the committee’s role and activities over the past year and going forward.
IB: Talk about the mission of the African American Advisory Committee (AAAC)?
The AAAC serves as a liaison between the African American business community and other under-represented business enterprises and the Flint & Genesee Chamber. As a liaison, the committee gathers information on the barriers, challenges and opportunities within the under-represented business communities. It then provides feedback to the Chamber to ensure that service offerings of the Chamber are aligned with the needs and expectations of these communities with the expectation of providing resources to help African American and minority owned businesses grow.
IB: How large is the AAAC? How are committee members selected?
We currently have between 15-20 members on our committee. The committee is comprised of business owners and professionals, leaders in the nonprofit sector and influencers in the community. The committee strives to maintain a good cross-section of community representatives.
IB: How has the AAAC’s work been impacted, as a result of COVID-19?
The AAAC made sure to communicate information about the many resources that Genesee County and the City of Flint has received across the network of its members. The committee has worked to be a conduit of information. The committee also has actively engaged with the members and other business owners to make sure they applied for various relief funds, whether it was local, state or federal program. We also help support our members with any technical assistance that may be needed.
IB: What are the opportunities from the AAAC’s perspective?
The AAAC is here to provide information to the African American business community about resources and opportunities in Flint and Genesee County. Looking ahead, we’re planning to engage more with the community as we move out of this pandemic, by sponsoring job fairs, town hall forums and other community events.