The Fort Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce is looking to expand and plans to create a new website and directory of Black-owned businesses.
Clifford Clarke, chairman of the board of directors of the Fort Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce and owner of C2 IT Advisors, spoke to members of the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne on January 11 about what is coming from the chamber.
Established in 2012, the chamber has its office at 1832 Paulding Road. Its members are typically black business leaders and disadvantaged small business owners, but membership is open to anyone. Currently, it has less than 100 members. Membership fees listed on its website are $ 500 for companies with 50 or more employees; $ 200 for those with less than 50 employees or $ 100 for an individual.
The chamber offers a variety of programs focused on financial health, mental health, access to capital, and understanding local government.
One program, the 720 Club, helps people achieve a credit score of 700 or higher. This allows the holder to get lower interest rates.
The chamber plans to release an updated directory of black-owned and run businesses in Fort Wayne later this month.
Because the chamber used a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and received help from SEED, as well as advertising funds, Clarke said the group hopes to make the directory available for free.
Copies will go first to the people mentioned in the post as well as to the advertisers.
The chamber is preparing for a first printing of a few hundred copies. The hope is that once people see it, more business owners will want to be listed, so there is a plan to have a second run in the middle of the year.
The chamber is also seeking to relaunch its BUILD program, which promotes the training of skilled workers.
The chamber seeks to create a more diverse and energetic community, aspects that attract new people to a place, Clarke said.
Working with Greater Fort Wayne, Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and New Allen Alliance, the Black Chamber seeks to build on Fort Wayne’s reputation and go beyond being a low-cost place to live.
Along with others he is also partnering with Fort Wayne UNITED on the United Front initiative which resulted from social unrest last year following the death of George Floyd, a black suspect who died in custody in Minneapolis. They organize educational sessions on topics such as the threat of stereotypes, privileges and power, and organizational prejudices. The next event will feature keynote addresses at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on January 27. Details on a webinar series and other information are available at FWUnitedFront.com.