Albany Black Chamber Empowers Entrepreneurs to Bridge the Wealth Gap
Albany, N.Y. – In an effort to foster economic growth, the Albany Black Chamber of Commerce & Social Club, established in 2022, has become a catalyst for Black entrepreneurship in the capital city of New York. The chamber, which opened its physical building last year near the State Capitol, aims to build robust business networks and bridge the wealth gap between Black and white Americans.
Raysheea Turner, a partner in the only Black-owned law firm in Albany, recently hosted a holiday mixer at the Albany Black Chamber, emphasizing the importance of networking and collaboration among entrepreneurs. Turner stated, “This is about growth, and this is about networking,” highlighting the chamber’s mission to facilitate business connections within the community.
The initiative to boost Black entrepreneurship gained momentum after the tragic death of George Floyd in 2020. Charles DeBow, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, noted a surge in interest and investment in community-based economic development during that period. However, the challenge now lies in sustaining these operations amidst shifting political environments.
Addressing the wealth disparity revealed by a 2022 Federal Reserve survey, the Albany Black Chamber, affiliated with the U.S. Black Chambers, seeks to provide essential services to small and medium-sized Black-owned businesses. Shelley Stewart III, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., emphasized the unique role of Black chambers in advocating for grants and offering technical assistance to minority-owned businesses.
Ed Mitzen, a white businessman deeply affected by George Floyd’s murder, played a pivotal role in the formation of the Albany Black Chamber. Through his nonprofit organization, Business for Good, Mitzen has invested in several Black-owned businesses and facilitated the establishment of the Albany Black Chamber. His commitment to “entrepreneurial philanthropy” aims to address disparities in housing, health, and crime by building lasting wealth and equity.
The chamber has not only provided a platform for networking but has also witnessed a transformative impact on businesses like Wallace Turner Law and Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen. As Mark Carter, who started Taysha Florist in the 1980s, recalls the challenges of being one of the few Black retailers, the Albany Black Chamber now stands as a beacon of inclusion and empowerment, creating a space for Black and brown entrepreneurs to thrive.