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Allies welcome: Invite for Black Entrepreneurs Day at the capitol goes out to all Minnesotans

Hundreds of Black small business owners are planning to come to the State Capitol in St Paul on Feb 16 to rally and raise their voices as state lawmakers make decisions about allocating billions of dollars in state money.

 

Also invited by Sheletta Brundidge, who is presenting the second Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol through her small business ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com—anyone considering themselves an ally to Black entrepreneurs.

 

Brundidge believes a large coalition supporting Black small businesses will help underscore their importance as lawmakers, elected leaders and policy makers make crucial funding decisions.

 

“Come on, now. Dr King didn’t march alone. We want people working with us and standing by us,” said Brundidge.

 

Brundidge's call to allies has been heard and answered by leaders in Minnesota’s corporate world who plan to show up in force.

 

“I believe Minnesota’s next Fortune 500 company is a Black-owned business and its founder will be at the Capitol for this event,” predicted Jonathan Weinhagen, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

 

“Black entrepreneurs are starting businesses at a faster pace than anyone in our region. We have the opportunity to equip them with public resources that have capitalized other great Minnesota businesses,” Weinhagen added. “There are programs, grants and resources through cities, counties and the state. We have to advocate for those investments to help grow their opportunities.”

 

Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association, was at last year’s inaugural Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol and is enthusiastic about participating again.

 

“Retailers of color are fantastic entrepreneurs. Connecting that vital part of retail in Minnesota with lawmakers just makes sense,” Nustad said. “It benefits the lawmakers. Policy makers who represent Minnesota need to hear from all of Minnesota. Black entrepreneurs come with a perspective and background that they haven’t commonly heard.”

 

While he has been active at the Capitol for more than 20 years, talking to lawmakers to lobby for retailers, Nustad wants Black entrepreneurs to not be intimidated by the setting.

 

“I’ve seen the power of physically going to the Capitol. Sheletta organizes the day and makes it easy for business owners; they just have to show up,” he said. “They don’t have to come with answers. Their job is to tell their stories and the legislators’ job is to turn it into policy that serves them.”

 

Two top leaders from the Saint Paul Saints Baseball Club will also be attending Black Entrepreneurs Day and are excited about standing in solidarity with the Black small business owners.

 

“It’s important, to physically be present. The visual of folks from all walks of life,  background and races adds to the power of the day,” said Eddie Coblentz, director of community partnerships and fan services for the Saints. 

 

“The Saints were started from the entrepreneurial spirit in 1993. This is an opportunity for us to support and show our believe if Black entrepreneurs are successful, it serves the greater community.”

 

Last year, lobbyist and attorney Brian McDaniel, with Hylden Advocacy & Law, worked one-on-one with some of the Black entrepreneurs to give them pointers and strategies for lobbying for themselves. He encourages other professionals to come to the Capitol on Feb 16 to offer their expertise.

 

“It’s important that allies who may have benefited from the system as it currently exists give their experience, knowledge and contacts to those who have not enjoyed the same access,” McDaniel said.

 

McDaniel had advice for allies who are bullish on the potential of Black small businesses and want to get off the sidelines and be of service.

 

“Don’t fall into the white savior mode,” he warned. “Ask the people what actually helps them and then help connect them.”

 

Sponsors for Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol include Clockwork, AARP Minnesota, Northwestern Mutual, Comcast and Clear Channel Outdoors.

 

BLACK ENTREPRENEURS DAY AT THE CAPITOL

Feb 16, 2024

Rally in the Rotunda at 11:30

Black entrepreneurs meet legislators, policy makers at noon

Lunch for all in The Vault at 2 pm

To register go to ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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