By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
The Johns Hopkins Office of Economic Development and Community Partnerships (OEDCP) is kicking off National Black Business Month by hosting its second annual Black Business Showcase on Aug. 6. The pop-up shop style event will take place at The Overlook at the Residence Inn by Marriott Baltimore and is free for the public to attend.
“The Black Business Showcase is an opportunity to uplift Black businesses in our community and to introduce them to individuals, both at Johns Hopkins and in the larger Baltimore community, that can purchase from them, partner with them and ultimately, incorporate them into their supply chain,” said Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development and community partnerships at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System.
The event was launched in 2021 and was also held during National Black Business month, after intern Keon Rosado and his colleague worked to recruit 25 local Black businesses to showcase their products.
Two hundred guests attended the inaugural showcase, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Many buyers and businesses reached out after the event to see when the showcase would be held again.
This year, the number of businesses at the showcase has expanded to 35, and the OEDCP hopes that even more community members come out to shop.
Thanks to sponsors, including Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Bloomberg Philanthropies, vendors pay no fees to be a part of the showcase.
“Sometimes as a small business you are not able to afford vending fees, but you want to get your product or your service out there,” said Chanel White, senior program and events manager for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for those businesses to showcase their business at no cost and to get the community out there and involved.”
The Black Business Showcase also contributes to the HopkinsLocal initiative, which leverages Johns Hopkins’ status as the largest private anchor institution in Baltimore to create economic opportunities that are inclusive of diverse people and to create wealth for individuals and communities.
According to Wilson, Black businesses are the connective tissue that allow Maryland’s economy to thrive. Black businesses hire Black people, giving them an opportunity to build wealth, and Black people invest their dollars into the community at a higher rate than any other demographic.
“We know that the storefronts, the occupancy within our inner city, continues to be the home of so many Black businesses and so when you think about the success of our city, community and individuals, it’s rooted in that connective tissue of Black businesses,” said Wilson. “The ability for us to impact those businesses can have a multiplier effect.”
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