Business directory

West Volusia NAACP and DeLand Pride launch black business directory

DELAND – The West Volusia Chapter of the NAACP and DeLand Pride have come together to create a Black Business Directory.

The goal is to raise awareness of black businesses in the western part of the county, and also to dispel racial and other historical divisions.

“Last year when George Floyd was assassinated, I represented DeLand Pride with the Orlando Alliance. The director of this site, Jennifer Foster, has made a major effort to try to fight racism, ”said Desiree Sylvester, member of DeLand Pride who advocates for the LGBTQ community.

“As a result of this, I connected with the Central Florida Foundation which distributed micro-grants. I had a discussion with people in the community that black people don’t feel comfortable going downtown (to DeLand). We want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Barbara Girtman, Volusia County Council Member and DeLand Realtor.

Sylvester said there were a lot of people ready to come together to work on a solution that made everyone feel part of the community. One of those steps was to create a directory of black businesses.

“It was Barbara Girtman (Volusia County Councilor) who said what we should be working on is trying to get whites to spend on black businesses,” Sylvester said. “We met with community leaders and decided that a black business directory would be the best solution. “

Girtman herself is a businesswoman; she works as a real estate agent with Bee Realty Corp. at DeLand.

Sylvester said a grant of $ 500 had been received to go ahead with the creation of the online directory.

“A lot of people have contributed a lot of their time and energy,” Sylvester said. “I think we only spent $ 200 on the current website. The rest was used to promote it.

Kimberly Cline, chair of the communications and publicity committee for the West Volusia NAACP, said an email newsletter from Pride Of The Earth about the grant to create the black business directory piqued his interest.

“I contacted our chair in economic development and said, ‘Hey! Watch what they are doing. Can I reach out? We have to work together. So apparently there have been a few listings (businesses) roaming the community for quite some time. I contacted Desiree (Sylvester with DeLand Pride) and learned all the groundwork she had done.

Cline said the directory website took about two months from start to build.

“We have 50 of them (companies uploaded to the website),” Cline said. “I wanted 100. We actually had a list of 140 but that list was pre-COVID. So we have painstakingly sent out emails, Facebook messages, and calls to try and contact the people on this list. We also had people who contacted us. So out of 140, we have 50 companies.

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Cline said the directory was a way to bring everyone in the community together after George Floyd died when a white Minneapolis policeman knelt by his neck as the crowd watched. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of his murder.

“When the George Floyd incident happened, a lot of white people were like, ‘What can we do? Everyone was trying to find ways to support black businesses, but there was no place to go to find black businesses.

“It’s a great way for black businesses to support each other. But for a community of people who want to help make a difference and who want to make a better effort to support these businesses, this is a great resource for finding out who you can do business with.

Kimberly Hodge Russell, owner of Klassy Kouture Fashions Boutique in Orange City

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Cline said managing the online directory was her top priority.

“We don’t know how many inquiries we’re going to get,” Cline said. “I will be responsive and charge these companies within 24 hours of receiving them.”

Cline and others have also worked overtime to publicize the new repertoire.

“So social media was a great way to start spreading it and sharing it,” she said. “We also print postcards which are to be distributed to different businesses and members of the community. “

The directory includes businesses outside of DeLand.

“We already have all kinds of businesses there. We didn’t want to restrict it only to DeLand. Right now we have folks from Daytona Beach, Deltona. I would love to see all of Volusia County on it. Right now it’s Black biz DeLand. But December 1 will switch to Black biz Volusia.

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Cline said advertising options may be limited for small business owners.

“We have social media which is wonderful,” Cline said. “Some small businesses (owners) can’t afford to target people through print media. If you’re up to your eyes in your business and don’t have time to go to chamber meetings and network, how do people learn about you? It’s by word of mouth. Having this resource online really makes it much easier for people to find you. “

DeLand Pride and the West Volusia NAACP hope people use the directory to increase local economic equality.

“I’m a real estate agent in downtown DeLand,” Girtman said. “I did this on purpose so that people could see me in the community doing business and for others to recognize that this opportunity is there for them too at any level.

“I have sought to be that role model throughout our ‘yes you can’ community. Whether at the political level, if you want to be in business, whatever, everything is at your disposal.

For more information or to request that your business be added to the directory, visit:

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