Local News

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local Black-owned businesses are hoping to get their fair share of city-awarded contracts amid the boom of development projects in Jacksonville.

RELATED: ‘Everybody’s trying to make it’: Local businesses feeling the impact of inflation

Sonya Dunbar owns a mobile dentistry company that allows her to service customers who may be unable to get to a dentist’s office. She took part in an event hosted by the Jacksonville Black Chamber of Commerce at the Prime F. Osborne Convention Center.

“It’s amazing it’s so important because everything that we need as a black business owner is under this roof right now. RS information, bookkeeping, small business loans, how to strategize your business, everything that you need is right here,” Dunbar said.

Officials couldn’t give the total number of Black-owned businesses in Jacksonville, but they said it’s growing and the event will help further that growth.

“We want businesses to come and serve the community by being part of something bigger than themselves,” JBCC president Shannon Denson said. We also want to be a place for resources for those businesses.”

Yara Banks, chief operating officer of the JBCC, said they want people to join for their future and not the JBCC’s.

There was supposed to be a city council meeting about the Jacksonville Small Emerging Business (JSEB) program, but it didn’t take place.

A city council working group was supposed to be looking at how to get small businesses, not just minority-owned companies, involved with city contracts. They met every other week, but it was never communicated that the meeting was canceled.

Tellisa Robinson, who is the chief executive officer of East Coast Stripping and Painting had a message for city leaders.

“We’re here looking for equal opportunity to get out not just for East Coast Stripping and Painting, but for small businesses, car washes, and barber shops,” Robinson said.

The head of the JSEB program said they are working to expand the program.

“So, it’s a transformative focus right now,” Gregory Grant of the JSEB program said. “The reason for the program is to make sure that small businesses can compete fairly on city contracts. But in doing so we want to make sure we’re putting additional resources within the program for education, community engagement, access to capital, and diversified contracting opportunities.”

More city contracts are expected to be awarded later in 2024.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

About the Author:
Jim Piggott

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.