TAMPA BAY, Fla. — As businesses rebound amid the pandemic, trends show a sharp divide in the future. A survey from the "Federal Reserve Bank of New York" shows 58% of Black business owners say they're worried about the financial health of their business. Only 27% of their white counterparts feel the same.
A local woman wanted to help, so she created a free resource to highlight Black-owned businesses, hoping to help them gain lifelong customers.
"We just want to be given a chance and the opportunity to be able to do what we love doing," Mr. B's Southern Cuisine Co-owner Ninkia Green said.
Green has worked in the kitchen at Mr. B's for the past four years. The restaurant is in the middle of two busy neighborhoods; Seminole Heights and Ybor. However, people weren't flocking for Green's soul food.
"I had some customers come in yesterday. They said they never came on this end of Nebraska," Green said.
When the Black Lives Matter movement gained mainstream support during rallies for racial equity last spring, supporters also focused on uplifting Black-owned businesses.
"All business owners want to share their culture. In order for businesses to flourish, we have to know that they're there, A. And then B. we have to go in the doors," Dionzia Farris said.
Farris didn't feel comfortable marching as COVID cases went up, but she wanted to help. So she created Tampa Central A.V.E. (A Virtual Experience).
"I used that as a springboard to say, 'Hey, I can support the movement of supporting minority businesses by doing what I do, which is I.T.,'" Farris said.
Farris paid homage to Tampa's historic Central Avenue, which used to be the city's booming Black business district. Farris compiled about 150 Black-owned businesses in this free online database.
"I'm so, so honored and so privileged that God blessed me with the skills to be able to do that," Farris said.
And now hidden gems like Mr. B's can shine a little brighter.
"Thank you for the database. Thank you for letting you know, letting people know that we all exist, too," Green said.