Atlantic City Community Pushes For More Black-Owned Businesses Amidst Historic Decline

Atlantic City, once a hub for Black-owned businesses, now sees a mere fraction of what it used to have historically.

Press Of Atlantic City reported that Atlantic City, once a hub for Black-owned businesses, now sees a mere fraction of what it used to. Historically, over 300 Black-owned businesses thrived in the Northside. Today, only a handful remains, surviving integration in sectors like barbershops, beauty parlors, churches, and funeral services, according to Ralph Hunter, president of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

Despite the decline, a new wave of entrepreneurs is determined to reverse the trend. Carson Days, co-owner of Swapz AC in Tanger Outlets, sees promise in the diversification of businesses, providing opportunities for smaller establishments to compete with major corporations. The push for revitalization has garnered support from residents and the local community.

Discrepancies arise in counting Black-owned businesses, with Visit Atlantic City listing 15 and Yelp reporting only six. Nationally, Black-owned firms have seen a notable increase, reaching 161,031, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Gross revenue for these businesses has surged by 43%, demonstrating growth from $127.9 billion in 2017 to $183.3 billion in 2021.

Determined entrepreneurs like Dominic Francis, owner of Heady2Go smoke shop, feel the positive impact of increased Black-owned businesses. “From the responses I get when people hear that I’m the owner, it’s always positive. It’s like a light to them that there’s more Black-owned business opening in Atlantic City,’’ said Francis. “We always get customers that want to support and show love, and they express how we need more Black-owned businesses in A.C.”

However, Days and Francis emphasize the need for additional resources such as grants, incentives, and increased awareness to foster sustainable growth.

Technological advancements and educational initiatives, such as the Small Business Academy, are seen as catalysts for success. Despite the challenges, there’s optimism that, with the right support and awareness, Atlantic City can witness a resurgence of Black-owned businesses, reclaiming its historical legacy.


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