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Tampa Bay makes push to support black-owned businesses

Local organizations create directories
Black owned business
Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 02, 2022

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Several local organizations hope you’ll step up and make a commitment to support black-owned businesses this February and beyond. It’s part of black history month and local entrepreneurs say it’s never been more crucial to spend your money with purpose.

Visit St. Pete Clearwater recently put together a list of black-owned businesses in Pinellas County, highlighting both Cosmic Donuts and Mermosa plus a book store, food trucks and even a coffee roaster.

The Green Book has a similar directory of businesses for both sides of the bay.

Jason Dudley’s St. Pete donut shop has a fitting name: Cosmic Donuts.

“It’s just an out of this world type of donut,” Dudley said.

Some of the sweets in his shop in the Gateway area of St. Pete on Roosevelt Boulevard near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. are simply eye-opening.

“Our most crazy thing is our apple fritter. The apple fritter is about the size of your head or a little bit bigger so that’s our most attention-getting things because people go that’s the size of my head,” Dudly elaborated.

Dudley can’t help but laugh telling people about his venture into the planet of baked goods.

“Believe it or not, I used to be in fitness so fitness to donuts is odd but it played out that way. I like to be creative with foods,” he added.

Across town, Desiree Noisette is the owner of Mermosa Wines. This past year, Noisette significantly expanded her business, which is based in St. Pete. Her wines are now available in 16 states across the country plus in several big-box stores like Target, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Total Wine, and at several military bases.

“The expansion means that we get to tell our story on a bigger platform and share American history in a profound way,” she added.

Every glass of Mermosa Bubbles or Mersecco Blanc de Blancs is served up with a flair of historical significance.

“Our wines are infused with the audacity of my great grandmother who broke the chains of slavery with her powerful voice. She was an incredible woman,” Noisette said with a smile.

From the pandemic to supply chain shortages, it has been a tough two years for local business owners. And yet, they tell ABC Action News one thing has kept them alive and that’s support.

“When it’s all said and done we have to support each other and make sure everyone is getting a piece of it. Without customers, we don’t have anything. This is a good time for us and I want to make sure everyone is supporting everyone,” Dudley added.

That support is more important than ever. A recent report from the US House Committee on Small Business found that in 2020, black-owned business ownership declined 40%-- the most of any group.

Luckily, local business owners tell ABC Action News they’ve fared well thanks to their customers.

“I think it’s important to support a broad portfolio of businesses and a diverse landscape of businesses. What you can learn from black-owned businesses is a very special part of American history and I think it should be part of an everyday practice to support black-owned businesses,” Noisette elaborated.

Black-owned businesses are growing. The latest US Census Bureau data shows the number of black-owned businesses nationally surged to 2 million in 2021.

You can find the Visit St. Pete Clearwater list here: https://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/article/black-owned-businesses-st-peteclearwater

You can find the Green Book list here: https://www.greenbooktb.com

You can keep up with Cosmic Donuts St. Pete here: https://www.instagram.com/cosmicdonuts.stpete/?hl=en

You can learn more about Mermosa Wines here: https://mermosa.com