Local News

Black Chamber of Commerce Stirring Up Controversy

Posted July 28, 1998

— Starting a new business isn't easy, and it can be especially tough for minorities. A Fayetteville minister is trying to help by starting a Black Chamber of Commerce in the city, but not everyone in the business community thinks it's a good idea.

Critics say the new chamber will divide the business community, but organizers of the new black chamber say their only goal is to increase the number of minority owned businesses in Fayetteville.

Wilson Canteen opened up his business 18 months ago. He says he relies on the newly established black chamber for business advice.

"Having a black chamber of commerce specializing in the needs for African-Americans and other is a benefit for me," says Canteen.

The organization's president say it is a benefit to all minority owned businesses. The group is striving to educate owners and increase revenue for them.

Reverend Clem Campbell says the Black Chamber of Commerce can offer small businesses what the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce cannot.

"Their program is not necessarily geared to businesses that generate only $10,000 to $15,000 a year," said Campbell. "So what we're trying to do is to create a program that addresses the needs of those business owners."

The president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce says his group does address the needs of small business owners of every color. It does not keep track of it's African-American members, but David Jameson says 600 of it's 1,400 members have less than four employees.

"We understand perfectly that small businesses are dealing with the tyranny of the day, and we can provide some training for their employees," says Jameson.

Jameson says it is common for larger cities to have several chambers, each with a certain niche, but he says they don't usually sustain themselves in cities the size of Fayetteville. Campbell feels more confident about success for his group. The black chamber is currently conducting a census to identify hundreds of black owned businesses in Fayetteville to get them involved.

In North Carolina, The Black Chamber of Commerce has other active chapters in Wilmington and Charlotte.


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