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Black small business owners unite for 2nd annual Black Entrepreneur State Fair in Minneapolis

The event provides exposure for Black business owners, along with networking and economic growth opportunities.

MINNEAPOLIS — After a year met with a pandemic and civil unrest, many small businesses across Minneapolis were hit hard, especially those owned by people of color.

According to a recent federal report on small businesses, Black business ownership fell more than 40% between February and April of last year. Making it the largest drop of any racial group.

That's why local entrepreneurs like Destinee Shelby are making it possible for business owners to make up for lost time and revenue, through the 2nd annual Black Entrepreneur State Fair.

"Yeah its kind of a big deal now, we have I think a total of 67 vendors," said Shelby. 

For those involved, it's a big deal with one mission.

"To invite others to spend their money with the underinvested businesses," said Shelby. 

The event provides exposure for Black business owners, along with networking and economic growth opportunities in a community where often times the proper education and resources to start a business are lacking.

"We're looking out for each other," said business owner Turqouya Williams. 

Williams is the owner of Soul Sistas, a self defense company that launched at last year's fair.

"Last year I was shocked about how well I did, the Mall of America ended up contacting me," said Williams. She went on to say, "so I feel like in a year I went from starting this event all the way to Mall of America."

But for Williams it's not so much about success, as it is re-writing the narrative of what Black owned can be for future generations.

"One of the main things is just creating generational wealth," Williams said. "When they look on the TV they don't see people who look like us most of the time unless they're, what, playing basketball or a rapper, or in a negative light." She went on to say, "but what about, my mom is a CEO, or she's the owner of her own business. It's about support and being true to who you are."

The Black Entrepreneur State Fair will run from Aug. 22-28 outside the Midtown Global Market in south Minneapolis. 

There will also be a parade on Saturday the 28th from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m., which will start at George Floyd Square, down Chicago Avenue and end at Lake Street. 

For more information on how to volunteer for the fair, email info@blackentrepreneurstatefair.org 

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