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Black Entrepreneurs Day planned at Capitol

Hundreds of Black business owners, developers and innovators will gather at Minnesota Capitol Friday morning to engage one-on-one with legislators.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Politics has always been about who gets what. That's why hundreds of African American business owners and innovators will converge on the State Capitol Friday morning for the first ever Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol, sponsored by ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com.

The event is being organized by Twin Cities media personality Sheletta Brundidge, who says it’s about making sure an often-overlooked segment of the state economy has a voice in the critical decisions that will be made here this session.

“We will have 200 to 300 African American business owners from across the state will come to the Capitol to engage one on one with our legislators, to let them what we want them to do with that $17 billion in surplus money they have, and how they can use that to help us shore up our businesses,” Brundidge told KARE.

“It's about making sure they understand that we have unique concerns and challenges as African American business owners that we need them to address.”

The event will begin with a rally in the Rotunda at 10:30 a.m. with Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, and others. 

After that participants will fan out across the Capitol to meet with legislators to make the case they should be included in big decisions over the budget this year. 

It will conclude with a noon luncheon in the Capitol basement gathering spot known as The Vault.

“During election time the Democrats came to our churches, came to our community centers, and told us that they cared. Well, now's the time they can show us that they actually do.”

Guest speakers will include Anissa Keyes, a Twin Cities therapist who has purchased the old Camden Park State Bank building in North Minneapolis to create a business incubation space. The event will also feature Dana Smith, who co-founded the MinnyRow market on Main Street in Hopkins with her husband Peter, a business that has temporarily shuttered due to economic conditions

“We've got Black businesses struggling across the state and all they need is a little access to some capital. And we're not just talking about financial capital. We're talking about social capital. Who can we call?”

Brian McDaniel, a Capitol lobbyist assisting Brundidge with the event, said the facetime with legislators goes beyond just making a personal connection.

“You want to be the local expert for each elected member of the House and Senate because they can’t be the experts on healthcare, education, criminal justice, taxes, they can’t,” McDaniel explained.

“So, you want to be the person when they see a bill that’s coming up they think, ‘Oh, I need to call that person from my district and see how this affects them.’.”

Especially coming out of the pandemic era when the Capitol became a ghost town for all practical purposes.

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