Assessment of Our Progress….. What Lies Ahead

In too many instances we have to hear the interpretation of what’s progress, from the third party, instead of hearing it from the horses mouth. As for Black business development and growth, I can speak to that.

While on a haphazard trekk to equity in how the City of Topeka and Shawnee County distributes its public funds, I stumbled across known law and policies that forcebly impelled them both to re-distribute the economic pie; as it relates to the sales tax initiative. Regardless of the route they took, there was only three available, and they took the the worst of all in chosing to distribute the monies amongst themselves. But, that’s water under the bridge. In the end this misadventure conjured up what could be called benefits to one and a need for Benedril to another. There is a benefit to having your tax dollars available to you if interested in starting or expanding a business. And a headache on implementing something no one realy wanted in the first place. I don’t own a business, but I personally would rather a Black business benefits from my tax payment, than some other ethnicity if they can provide me the same quality of service. Just being real!

It has been about seven years since the Topeka/Shawnee County sales tax initiative began and by now we can look back and see if we have benefitted, what needs to change, what needs to be added to the mix, and how can this opportunity do something bigger than all of us and leave something in its wake to build off of? I am a reminder that all work isn’t over and there is yet more work to do.

With over $60M at stake in Topeka/Shawnee County, the meager pitense allocated to develop ‘minority’ businesses is far better than what was available before. It can be used like lottery for materialistic endeavors and to see our names briefly in lights, or it can be utilized in a manner that builds solid foundations that ensues prosperity. “A house is only as strong as its foundation.”

Over the years I heard the stories. No access to capital for startup. Little education on what it takes to start/maintain a successful business. No assistance after a business is started. Lack of access to capital for capacity building…. Barring just bad credit, we can take those off the table if we want to, so what’s the next complaint?

Many of you attended the Topeka Mexican Fiesta Parade and saw the many espanols that attended like a beacon had drawn them there for culture and their people. When the pavement hit the road, like them, we have a common identity that should bond us behind both the individual; and the collective. After years of putting in work, I can look to Black business owners on the verge of good contracts and they will be able to create jobs. Picture that, more Black men creating jobs!

A large janitorial contract here, a nice contract on Ft. Leavenworth there, and another righteous contract by a brother at Ft. Riley is creating jobs. Unless you watch prime-time tv, espn and world news 24/7, you gotta see the vast opportunities we have at play and our role and opportunity in training & employing our people.

I will now take the organization and boldly go into our next haphazard trekk to compile and provide an online directory of Kansas Black businesses. I believe so much that it will become an online destination for Black professionals, government and corporations to find quality Black businesses that I have been threatened to be committed. On the real, we must be wise enough to see that moment and leap in the right direction, at the right time. Too many Black youth in our midst are unbeknownestly relying on us adults to make the right decisions and choices. They rely on us to pick; and win the right battles. And, ultimately it will be those who look like them that is responsible to provide them a pathway in a world where only the strong survives.

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