Minority business expo aims to link Baton Rouge’s black business owners

    Wanting to forge connections between black business owners, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce is hosting its second annual “We’re Stronger Together” Minority Business Conference and Expo.

    The expo—taking place June 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the JC Penney stage at Cortana Mall—will feature 54 vendors, food trucks, music, workshops, a fitness session and a keynote address. Most importantly, says BRMBCC President Aaron Franklin, the seven-hour event offers ample time for networking, a void in the minority business community he hopes his two-year-old organization can fill.

    “The goal is to get them some business, get them connected, get some relationships built,” Franklin says. “You don’t know of too many black-owned businesses, and we’re fifty-five percent of the population.”

    Last year’s inaugural event attracted roughly 400 attendees, says Franklin, who expects a similar attendance number this year. This year’s event will focus on branding and marketing, components, Franklin says, many of the organization’s 54 member businesses struggle.

    Keynote speaker Jalessa McDowell, CEO of McDowell’s Branding Group, will discuss how to effectively brand a company. McDowell has experience working with ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, according to her business website.

    Meanwhile, attendees will also be able to sit through 10 workshops with topics ranging from financial matters to real estate, as well as a “Women of Excellence” panel discussion.

    Also of significance is the chamber’s decision to host the event at the beleaguered Cortana Mall in north Baton Rouge.

    “It’s 1 million square feet—why can’t we use that space and repurpose it?” Franklin says. “We’ve got to bring life back to it and to that part of town.”

    To register for the event or look into sponsorship opportunities, visit brmbcc.org.  

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