An initiative designed to increase prosperity in Kalamazoo returns for the second year. The Kalamazoo Black Business Expo will be held Aug. 24. It will showcase 60 African-American entrepreneurs, up from 40 last year. The city of Kalamazoo once again is a lead sponsor and four others have signed on, including the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and two banks.
The expo is the brainchild of area psychologist Nicole Triplett. She's also the creator of a new wine line and the founder of Black Wall Street Kalamazoo, a professional organization for black business owners.
Triplett said this is an exciting time for businesses of color.
Nationwide, black women are the fastest-growing group of business owners. From 2007 to 2018, black female-led businesses grew by 164 percent -- as compared to 58 percent overall for all women businesses for the same period. That's according to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, a yearly study commissioned by American Express.
Last year, an estimated 750 people attended the inaugural Kalamazoo Black Business Expo held at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, according to Triplett.
Encouraged by the strong response, Triplett moved the event to a larger venue this year, to the Kalamazoo County Expo Center. And, she's added a separate day devoted to a daylong business boot camp for entrepreneurs wishing to enhance their skills.
"The feedback was awesome," said Triplett in Thursday's upcoming episode of WMUK's WestSouthwest news and public affairs show as she reflected on the response from entrepreneurs who exhibited their businesses at the 2018 expo.
"When we're talking about the networking and the motivation and the general support from the community in regards to the acknowledgment of their businesses, they were very, very pleased with the turnout and the connections that they made with people."
Admission to the Aug. 24th Kalamazoo Black Business Expo is free. It will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, and all are welcome. There is a training component for entrepreneurs a week earlier, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Epic Center.
WestSouthwest news & public affairs show airs Mondays and Thursdays on WMUK 102.1 FM at 7:34 a.m., 9:34 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. You can subscribe to the WestSouthwest podcast through Apple podcasts and searcing podcasts in Google Music. There you can leave a rating and write a review.