SEATTLE, Wash.— The Washington Small Business Development Center and more than a dozen other organizations are collaborating to present an online symposium on Feb. 2 to celebrate, educate, inspire and normalize Black-Owned Business Excellence across the state. Washington State University is the statewide host of the Washington SBDC, and administers the program in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The second annual Black-Owned Business Excellence conference consists of a series of virtual presentations and discussions starting at 9 a.m. with a keynote address by Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodson and the Minority Business Diversity Association (MBDA) on the state of Black-owned businesses in Washington state.

For Zoom links to conference sessions including Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodson’s keynote address, and breakout sessions hosted by Seattle Public Library, PTAC, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Greater Seattle Business Association, Minority Business Development Association and Urban Impact Seattle, please go to Eventbrite.

The keynote address will be followed by a panel discussion among Black business owners, a discussion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other SBA disaster relief programs. There will also be eight breakout sessions on validating business ideas, startup, growth and expansion, and a final wrap-up session to discuss next steps for building community and supporting the growth of Black-owned businesses. There is no cost to attend, but participants must register for sessions to get the appropriate login information.

Jenefeness Tucker, a certified business advisor with the Washington SBDC, said
the Black-Owned Business Excellence conference is the kickoff for what will be an entire month of virtual opportunities created to foster connection and community among Black and BIPOC business owners.

“What we know is that no one creates a successful business alone,” Tucker said. “When business owners come together to share their experiences and learn from each other, the entire community is strengthened.”

About 10 percent of small businesses in the United States are Black-Owned, according
to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the majority of those businesses are owner-only enterprises.

Robert Fairlie, a researcher at University of California, Santa Cruz, found Black business owners have been disproportionately hurt by the COVID‑19 pandemic. According to Fairlie, the number of active African-American owned businesses dropped by 41% in April 2020 because of COVID‑19 restrictions, more than twice the drop seen by white business owners.

“This symposium will be an opportunity for participants to get specific, actionable information about economic relief programs such as the PPP and also an opportunity to make connections within the community,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC.

The Washington SBDC is a network of more than 30 business advisors working
in more than two dozen communities across the state to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start, grow or buy/sell a business. SBDC business advisors provide no cost, confidential, one-on-one advising on every stage of business development and just about any industry.

During the pandemic, SBDC advisors have been working remotely, making it easier than ever for people to meet one-to-one with an advisor via Zoom or another online platform, no matter where they live.

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