City of South Bend hosting it's first Small Business Launch Pad event
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The City of South Bend is hosting its first ‘Small Business Launch Pad Expo’ this weekend giving minority business owners a chance to showcase their products. This is the first launch pad event the city is hosting in an effort to create economic justice, but also bring the community closer together.
“This is actually making me now want to say okay what else can I be a part of in the community. If the community is giving back to me what can I do for the community," said Latonya Crawford, Owner of Shug's Tea.
Crawford owns one of the few women led businesses here in south bend. While she says identifying as a minority both ethnicity and gender wise has come with negativity in the past, she’s grateful city leaders are creating opportunities like the first ever small business launch pad event.
Sot: antonius northern, inclusive project manager for city of south bend
“These opportunities these business owners have been deserving since since they started doing business and this year after corona we knew that this business community really needed the additional push," said Antonius Northern, Inclusive Project Manager for the City of South Bend.
The City learned less than 10% of businesses had a single minority employee member on staff back in 2016.
According to Northern, that was something Mayor James Mueller was hoping to change even providing support for owners to navigate grant processes to access local and federal funding.
Now with the creation of their first ever business expo the city is excited to provide a platform for 40 minority led businesses to showcase their products to the community.
“I’m hopeful that not only is there gonna be some economic participation and economic activity happening here but I’m hoping that other people get inspired by this," said Northern.
The event will have live entertainment, games, and a basketball competition. While there will be plenty of fun to be had Crawford says she just hopes it continues to inspire not only her generation, but future ones as well.
“I’m hoping that this draws us closer together as a community and then that those that are already established can help the next generation that’s coming forward to believing that you’re able to do this if we did it at the end of the day and we did it through a pandemic," said Crawford.
The event will take place this Saturday at the Charles Black Community Center from 10 am to 7 pm.