WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- August is National Black Business Month. A time when cities like West Palm Beach encourage consumers to support growth and diversity in business. While progress has been made for black-owned businesses, some say there’s a still way to go.
In West Palm’s Northwood neighborhood black business owners can be found in a variety of fields and passions.
”I’ve owned my business for nine years,” said Diane McKinnie, owner of Diane’s Boutique. “I do it because I like fashion, clothes and pretty things. And I like to meet people and make people happy. It also keeps me young.”
She’s part of a 34- percent increase in black owned businesses in the last decade nationally according to latest figures from the US Census Bureau. A survey revealed Florida ranked second for the most black-owned businesses, just behind Georgia. But some city officials argue there’s still disparities.
“Not enough,” said Frank Hayden, West Palm Beach Equal Opportunity Office director. “A comparison would be – for every one black business there may be 10 or 20 non-black. And so it makes it difficult to compete. I liken it a lot to David and Goliath.”
Hayden said a disparity study revealed black business owners have not been given a fair share of the pie in business ownership in West Palm Beach. He says the city’s answer is sheltered market programs and other initiatives in the works to expand opportunities for minority-business ownership throughout all areas of the city.
”If we put a project out on the street we can require that a percentage of that work goes to a minority firm,” he said.