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“What do you need?” Minnesota’s top political leaders to welcome Black Entrepreneurs to the capitol on Feb 16

When hundreds of Black small business owners arrive in St Paul for the second Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol, they will be greeted by a bipartisan group of influential elected leaders, state legislators, commissioners and policy makers.

 

Sponsored by ShelettaMakesMeLaugh, the small business founded by podcast entrepreneur Sheletta Brundidge, Black Entrepreneurs Day is scheduled for Feb 16, just days after the 2024 legislature is gaveled back in.

 

Following passage of an ambitious agenda last session, state lawmakers will again deliberate on how billions of dollars in state funds will be appropriated.

 

“We have to be in the Capitol and in the conversation while these decisions are being made,” said Brundidge. “They have to see our faces and know our names — and we have to know theirs, so we can hold them accountable.”

 

Beginning with a Rally in the Rotunda at 11:30 Black Entrepreneurs Day will bring several Black small business owners to the podium to share their vision for how decisions made at the Capitol can better serve them and invest in their communities.

 

I’m so grateful to Sheletta and all of the organizers and small business owners who take time out of their day and their work to come to the Capitol to meet with us,” said Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hartman (DFL-Brookyn Park.)

 

“Hearing first hand from Black small business owners and building these relationships is so critical to our work and ensuring we deliver solutions for Minnesotans,” said Hortman.

 

Input from business owners who attended last year’s Black Entrepreneurs Day contributed to funding for programs aimed at strengthening minority-owned businesses and addressing historic inequities.

 

Hortman pointed to the 2023 Jobs & Labor Budget, which contained funding addressing persistent economic disparities, including new low-interest loan programs to help small businesses owned by people of color. She also noted new funding for non-profit lenders designed to serve minority-owned businesses with training, grants and loans and technical assistance.

 

A popular feature of Black Entrepreneurs Day will be reprised, as individual entrepreneurs can choose a face-to-face meetings customized to their own needs. They can meet with their own lawmakers or seek out a member of a legislative committee with oversight on an issue relevant to them or sit down with a representative of a state department. The day concludes with lunch for all at the Vault at 2 pm.

 

These businesses are such engines for their communities. When I went last year I was able to get some insight I wasn’t able to get anywhere else. This is when we can ask ‘What do you need?’ and hear directly from people about what’s working and what isn’t,” said Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha. “There’s no substitute for a direct conversation.”

 

In addition to the events on the day’s agenda, Black small business owners will also have a chance to network and socialize and flex their collective muscle by showing up en masse as a constituency.

 

“Last session, a handful of things we got done were informed by what we heard from this community,” said Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan. “We know the best policies come from the people.”

 

Flanagan mentioned the Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Fund as an innovation created to bolster minority-owned businesses; it funnels capital to businesses owned by people of color, women, immigrants and veterans. The Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Fund has already closed 61 new loans, totaling $2.6 million that are credited with creating 202 new jobs for new and expanding business.

 

“We want the people who are impacted by our decisions to know it is their house, too, and they can influence and shape the process,” said Flanagan, who said she is eager to attend the Feb 16 event at the Capitol and meet with Black entrepreneurs.

 

“And you know that anything that Sheletta is associated with is going to be fun,” Flanagan added.

 

All Black small business owners and their allies are invited to attend Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol on Feb 16. The day begins with a Rally in the Rotunda at 11:30, followed by meeting with legislators. Lunch for all at 2 pm.

 

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

 

Attendees are asked to register at ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com

 

 

 

 

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