Metro Atlanta’s Share of Black-owned Businesses Nearly Triple That of U.S.1; Latest Playbook Offers Path to Further Strengthen Region as Location of Choice for Black Entrepreneurs
ATLANTA, April 20, 2021 – Today, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) is launching an inclusive economic development effort with the goal of empowering and equipping the metro Atlanta business community to take action in elevating, growing and accelerating the success of Black-owned businesses across the region. This is the second of four focus areas for ATL Action for Racial Equity announced in February, which also highlights the need to advance racial equity in corporate policies, education and workforce development.
Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs play a critical role in fueling metro Atlanta’s economy, bringing needed jobs to the region and helping set metro Atlanta apart from cities across the country and around the world. Atlanta-based Black-owned employer firms employ more than 62,000 people and generate nearly $7 billion in average annual revenue, according to U.S. Census data1. From H.J. Russell & Co. and Atlanta Life Insurance to The Gathering Spot, The Village Market and Walker Brands, Black-owned businesses are the cornerstone of the region’s history and future.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the more than 225 businesses that have already joined ATL Action for Racial Equity to roll out the second phase of our multi-faceted initiative,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Coming together for collective impact is at the core of who we are in Atlanta. That impact will be visible in our business community’s intentional focus on becoming customers of Black-owned businesses and providing financial, human and thought capital to this critical component of our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
First announced in February with 150 participating companies, the ATL Action for Racial Equity initiative has since grown to 225+ members. New signees include Atlanta Humane Society, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Equifax, KPMG, NCR, Sharecare and more than 75 other organizations spanning industry and size.
At the heart of the inclusive economic development effort is a playbook that outlines specific actions businesses can take, including increasing access to capital for Black entrepreneurs, growing the share of metro Atlanta-based companies that are Black-owned, and adopting formal supplier diversity programs. In fact, several leading businesses are featured in the playbook, including Cox Enterprises, Google and Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, and UPS.
“Achieving supplier diversity is about being intentional in our pursuit of representation at every stage of the supply chain,” said Jose Turkienicz, chief procurement, real estate and global business services officer at UPS. “Not only does this ensure companies like UPS draw upon the best available suppliers, it also broadens economic inclusion by helping guarantee diverse-owned companies have an opportunity to compete for business. The resulting job and wealth creation in traditionally underrepresented communities is critical to the ATL Action for Racial Equity’s overall mission to advance racial equity.”
“Some studies predict that 40-60 percent of Black-owned businesses won’t make it over the next six to 12 months. Atlanta: That does not have to be our story,” said Ryan Wilson, CEO, The Gathering Spot. “There are two things that I really want to stress to this group that we can do about that: First, make sure that entrepreneurs -- and specifically African American-owned businesses -- have access to the resources they need. That means, one, access to capital, and two, being a customer both on the corporate and individual level. I know that if we are intentional about these efforts, we can manufacture the types of wins that our city will be really proud of.”
This effort builds on the strong foundation and momentum for inclusive economic development already in motion across the region. In March 2021, MAC awarded 19 small and medium-sized Black-owned businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with $180,000 of direct economic relief funded through investor donations from across the metro Atlanta business community. The companies that received the grant represent a range of industries adversely affected by the pandemic, including accommodations and food services; arts, entertainment and recreation; healthcare and social assistance; and retail trade. Nearly 70% of recipient companies are woman-owned, and two companies are veteran-owned. This is the second round of RESTORE ATL grants issued since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and brings the total amount raised for the initiative to $360,000.
MAC’s Longstanding DEI Commitment
As the leading voice for the region’s business community for 161 years, MAC has been a driving force in our region’s growth and success. Over recent weeks, voices across the region have reminded MAC of the importance of the organization’s work to advocate for issues that impact the region. MAC is forging the path ahead with an unwavering belief that diversity, equity and inclusion are business and community imperatives, each a necessary tenet of maintaining metro Atlanta’s competitiveness in the global economy. With ATL Action for Racial Equity, MAC promises to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion as business and community imperatives, providing guidance, resources and accountability measures that generate meaningful outcomes and contribute to efforts aimed at dismantling systemic racism – one of our nation’s most pressing problems.
For more information on ATL Action for Racial Equity powered by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and to take action, visit www.ATLRacialEquity.com.
About the Metro Atlanta Chamber
The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) serves as a catalyst for a more prosperous and vibrant region. To advance economic growth and improve metro Atlanta's quality of place, MAC is focused on starting, growing and recruiting companies to the 29-county metro Atlanta region. The Chamber is also focused on expanding the region's innovation economy by promoting and strengthening connections to drive Atlanta's innovation and entrepreneurial culture. MAC is committed to being an active voice for the business community, serving as an advocate for a competitive business climate and promoting Atlanta's story. For more information, visit www.MetroAtlantaChamber.com.
1U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Business Survey, 2018 (TableID: AB1700CSA01)
Sr. Director, Public Relations