Black-Owned Business WT Stevens to Help Replace 18,000 Contaminated Pipes in Flint, MI

photo via huffpost.com

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

A black woman-owned construction company has been awarded a federally funded service contract to replace thousands of water pipes in Flint, Michigan. As part of a $97 million settlement to replace corroded pipes by 2020, the state has contracted WT Stevens Construction, which became a state-certified lead abatement specialty company in 2016, along with three other companies.

The companies will replace more than 18,000 pipes across the city, The Network Journal reported earlier this month. Rhonda Grayer, vice president of the family-owned company, told The HUB Flint that this contract is the “biggest project we’ve done.”

WT Stevens’ $10.9 million contract is the largest deal with the city for replacing service lines, according to MLive. It is responsible for addresses in Wards 3, 4, 8 and 9. The city allotted $25 million for the project in total. Grayer’s husband, Jeff Grayer, serves as the project manager. He told TNJ that about 800 waterlines have been replaces so far and he hopes to have 6,000 replaced by the end of 2017.

“Our company is usually the only African American-owned business to respond to request for proposals for various Flint city contracts even now after the court rulings related to the water crisis,” he said. “This is a major project that will ensure public safety and start rebuilding trust between the city and the community … something that has been missing awhile.” He said the goal is to “have all 18,000 lead-corroded residential pipes replaced by December 2019.”

The company has hired about 20 staff members, including ex-offenders and young people, and a video team to document the piping being replaced. Grayer said she’s following the example her late dad and founder of the company set for making a positive impact on the community. “I will tell you that it is really exciting and the most important part of it is the opportunity to employ people who may not have had other opportunities,” she told The HUB Flint.

To read full article, go to: Black-Owned Business To Help Replace 18,000 Contaminated Pipes In Flint | HuffPost

iBuyBlack Card Launched in Philadelphia to Offer Discounts to Supporters of Black-Owned Businesses 

(photo via twitter.com)

by Nigel Roberts via newsone.com

African-American business owners in Philadelphia gathered last week to launch a discount card to encourage the community to spend their money at local Black-owned businesses, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.With an iBuyBlack card, which costs $10, shoppers receive discounts up to 15 percent at participating Black-owned businesses. About 80 companies currently participate in the program, which has the support of a wide coalition that includes local elected officials.

Earl Harvey, sales director of iBuyBlack.org, said the organization’s goal is to recruit 500 businesses and 10,000 cardholders by the end of this year. About 1,500 people have already signed up for the card, The Inquirer reported.

A primary goal of the effort is to build wealth in the community, former president and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas Michael Rashid told the audience on Tuesday.

“Economists say the average dollar earned by Blacks stays in our community for just six hours. Compare that to the White community, in which dollars circulate for 17 days. That’s wealth-building,” he said, according to The Inquirer.

To read full article, go to: Philadelphia Black-Owned Businesses Launch iBuyBlack Card | News One

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Gift Ideas For Friends, Family or Yourself

article bvia madamenoire.com

Who says Black History Month isn’t a celebration? Check out 10 super chic items for you (or others) that celebrate blackness.

To see more options and to click through to buy, go to: I’m Black Y’all: 10 Black History Month Gifts For Yourself

Mahisha Dellinger, CEO of Hair Product Line Curls, on Becoming a Leader of Your Life – New York Times

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Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger (Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

by Adam Bryant via nytimes.com

This interview with Mahisha Dellinger, chief executive of Curls, a maker of hair care products, has been edited for space and clarity.

Q. What were your early years like?

A. I grew up in California, in an area called Meadowview, which was dubbed Danger Island. There was a lot of crime: drug activity, gang activity, home invasions, drive-by shootings. I was my mother’s star child because I never gave her any trouble.But my brother was in a gang, so he got into a lot of trouble starting from 15 on. Our house actually got shot up because another gang came to retaliate. No one was hurt, but my environment was very much one of fear. I had to learn how to take care of myself at an early age. My mother worked a lot, and she was often gone. So from the age of 7 on, I got myself breakfast, made my lunch, went to school, came back home, did my homework, and then she would come home after 7. In that kind of neighborhood and environment, you can go either way. You can either become a leader and control your destiny because you’re forced to, or you can go in the opposite direction. I had to become a leader of my life, and it started there, at a young age.I think I have an innate strength about me because of where I came from. I’ve seen it all. And I had a desire to change my life. I didn’t want to live the way I was living. That pushed me to finish my education and ultimately go on to higher education, and change my legacy.

Given that you had to take care of yourself, were you able to be involved in things outside of school?

My mom changed her lifestyle. She used to party a lot on the weekend. My brother would babysit me, and take care of us both while she was gone. But in sixth grade, she gave her life to God, and that’s when our lives really changed for the better. From that point, it became all about church, all week. Church was my life. I didn’t have really a lot outside of that. It was a very strict environment from sixth grade on. I loved it. I had a sense of belonging.

Tell me about your decision to become an entrepreneur.

I reached a point where I decided I’m never going to work for anyone else again. I’m going to own my destiny, and I’m going to determine how far I can go. When I turned the switch on my website in April 2002, I was so happy when I had eight orders. It was the best thing ever, that first day. Initially, it was e-commerce only. The big change in my business really happened in 2009, when Target called and wanted to carry my products. That gave us the exposure we needed.

What have been some key leadership lessons for you?

I learned to soften my approach. Because I am a Type A, there’s not a lot of room for fluff, typically. That’s my personality, but I had to soften myself with certain people and adapt to different personalities and give each one what they need individually. I have four kids, and they’re all different. I feel like my employees are the same way. Some need more from me in some areas, some need less, and I had to change that so I could retain my key people. That was an important personal development for me.

To read more, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/business/mahisha-dellinger-of-curls-on-becoming-a-leader-of-your-life.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=4&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F12%2F30%2Fbusiness%2Fmahisha-dellinger-of-curls-on-becoming-a-leader-of-your-life.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0

Shoppe Black’s Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis Commit to Black-Owned Businesses — And Each Other

Entrepreneurs Tony O. Lawson and Shantrelle P. Lewis are the founders of ShoppeBlack.us (photo via ebony.com)

article by Glenn Jeffers via ebony.com

It started with a Facebook post.

Curator and entrepreneur Shantrelle Lewis took to the social-media site to find sharp-dressed brothers for her exhibition, The Dandy Lion Project.” When Tony Lawson, also an entrepreneur, responded to Lewis’ online query, the two quickly bonded over their shared history — they attended Howard University at the same time but never met on-campus — and a strong interest in business.

That connection soon turned into a relationship that blossomed in several ways. In November 2015, the couple launched Shoppe Black, a site that promotes Black-owned businesses and culture around the globe. And last month, Lewis and Lawson were married in a “Nigeria meets New Orleans” themed ceremony that Okayafrica dubbed “The Biggest, Blackest Wedding of All Time.”

EBONY spoke with the newlyweds about the site, working together as newlyweds and how Black businesses can become wealth generators.

***

EBONY: How did Shoppe Black come about? 

Lawson: We both have an interest in creating wealth in the Black community and understand that business ownership is the way, or one of the ways, to create wealth. That being said, when the Mike Brown shooting happened, there were a lot of calls to action demanding a boycott of businesses that don’t respect Black dollars and the support of Black-owned businesses. We sat down and figured out, okay, what’s the best way for us to organize and let people know about the Black businesses that exist. We knew that there was a need for it. We’re always looking to support Black-owned businesses and this is a way to compile all that information in one place and make that information interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

EBONY: What is the company’s mission? 

Lewis: Right now, we are providing content around Black money, thought, love and culture.  In early 2017, we will launch the directory and business services. Our primary mission is to make the process of supporting Black-owned businesses, like our business easy, to make it exciting, to create power, give us a source of power within our community and within society at large. The sheer size of Black buying dollars is overwhelmingly powerful.

Lawson: Additionally, another goal of the company is to reduce the rate of Black business failure. Black businesses fail at a rate higher than all other businessesWe want to be a hub for Black business. The services and exposure we provide will help put them in a position where that rate will decrease. You may not know that, okay, there’s a Black-owned leather bag company, a water company or a toiletry company. Those companies are out there, and it’s our mission to let the people know that they do exist and support them.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/ebony/shoppe-black-entrepreneur-married#ixzz4UNEYnlhE

BLACK ENTERPRISE: 11 Black Owned Businesses You Can Support

article by Patrice Tartt via blackenterprise.com

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, especially as a minority, given all of the competition. In fact, it takes diligence, perseverance, follow through, hard work, and a lot of it to be successful in any business. The thought of pursuing your dream is nice, but putting action behind that thought is just the preliminary phase, and where the hard work begins. And, the going doesn’t actually get tough until you start building your business with your blood, sweat, and your tears. As a fellow entrepreneur, I know about all of this a little too well, but in the end, it’s worth it, because dreaming isn’t just something that we do at night, dreams are meant to be lived.

Black-owned businesses have progressed rapidly over the years, and according to the most updated figures in 2007, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 1.9 million companies owned by black entrepreneurs, so imagine how many more there are to date. Supporting these businesses not only helps the entrepreneurs but also puts money back into the black community. BOBs are depending on the support of their community in order to survive and to thrive. With so many competitors in each industry, things can take a turn for the worst quickly if a business is not careful, therefore, we must be there for each other, diligently supporting. There is power in the black dollar, so why not put that power into assisting a community that understands your heritage and history, and values your life in general. While doing all of this, you should expect a quality product or service in return, and it becomes a win-win for both parties involved.

I’ve made it easy by compiling this list. Included are 11 black entrepreneurs that I highly recommend supporting, along with detailed information on each of their businesses. The majority are online businesses and the others that aren’t, be sure to recommend to both friends and family located in the respective areas.

Latorie Walker, owner & CEO of Aspire Early Learning Academy I & II located in West Columbia and Lexington, South Carolina, offers a boutique-style learning environment where children are taught with individualized developmental plans and a curriculum that adequately prepares each child for kindergarten. AspireELA, strives for excellence while preparing their students for a bright future in a safe, loving, and fun environment that focuses on academics. The teaching team at AspireELA are patient with all of their students and are well experienced in the field of Early Childhood. They are committed to ensuring that every child receives the best opportunity to produce the foundation for a fruitful, educational, and life-long experience. www.aspireearlylearningacademy.com

Brittney S. Carter, CEO of B. Carter Solutions L.L.C. located in the Washington, DC metro area was launched in April 2015. Carter decided that she wanted to start a company that offers “solutions” to a consumer’s problem under one umbrella. As a one-stop shop for public relations, social media management, and professional development needs, she relishes the opportunity to provide consumers with operational convenience.  B. Carter Solutions is committed to elevate imaginative solutions by focusing on the mission behind the vision. They desire to measure the success for their clients through awareness, innovation, and out-of-the-box strategies sticking to their mantra, “Where Vision Meets Strategy.” www.bcartersolutions.com

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“Shark Tank” on ABC Teams up with Value Partnerships to Seek Entrepreneurs of Color

“Shark Tank” on ABC (photo via black enterprise.com)

article by Carolyn M. Brown via blackenterprise.com

Now in its 7th season, ABC’s Shark Tank has empowered entrepreneurs to strike deals worth over $70 million.

Since the beginning, black entrepreneurs have shined. Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory struck a deal with Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John on episode 1 with a near $1M valuation.

In Season 7, entrepreneurs like Sarah Ribner of Piper Wai, and Ben Young and Gregory Coleman of Nexercise, continue to inspire on Friday nights.  Nexercise’s $18.7M valuation is the largest to date on Shark Tank.

Joshua DuBois and Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships are working to ensure the voices pitching on ABC’s Shark Tank reflect the diversity of audiences watching. With the support of producer Mark Burnett, Values Partnerships – a Washington, D.C., based firm engaging faith-based and diverse communities worldwide – leads a nationwide casting tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to the show, and supporting entrepreneurship nationwide.

“ABC’s Shark Tank and its producer Mark Burnett are committed to supporting entrepreneurs from every community in the nation. The power of seeing someone who looks like you successfully pitch a business on the show cannot be understated,” says DuBois.

In 2015, Values Partnerships held 11 casting events in 6 cities. Several entrepreneurs, including Sprëtz  and Piper Wai pitched at Values Partnerships events and were selected for Season 7 of Shark Tank. The 2016 tour kicks off this week in Miami (March 4).

Events are planned in other cities, including Austin, Texas; NYC; Washington, D.C; Detroit, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and San Francisco/Oakland.

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