An online directory connects Coloradans to local Black-owned businesses

An online directory connects Coloradans to local Black-owned businesses

Mention a business owned by Black and BJ Joyce’s eyes will light up.

The original Denverite and East High School alumnus is the CEO of Blackbees Colorado, a searchable online directory of black businesses located in the state. Joyce, who now lives in Aurora, has always believed that economic empowerment is integral to helping the black community overcome the many inequalities they face.

In 2020, Joyce found it Black Biz Colorado’s Facebook page They immediately saw great potential. As social justice protests spread across the country after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, interest in the page grew exponentially. Joyce saw that people were looking for ways to support black businesses.

By September 2021, Joyce was in charge of the Facebook Page, and helped design and launch the Black Biz Colorado website. To date, the site has registered 900 companies across Colorado, and the Facebook page has nearly 19,000 members.

“It’s an opportunity for black-owned businesses to be found by audiences across Colorado,” he said, referring to the wide range of businesses represented by both volumes. “From engineering to telephone and communications to food services, beauty supplies, and everything in between.”

Marlon Wells, owner Artistic clothing, graphics, and signs On Aurora, he said that registering his company in the directory helped him attract new clients.

“Historically, for us as black business owners, it has been more difficult to get support in order to thrive and keep doing business,” Wells said. “There were barriers in place that black companies had to overcome.”

One of the biggest challenges facing black companies, Joyce said, is gaining visibility. This is especially true in Colorado, where there is a smaller black population than many other states. He spends most of his time encouraging people to register their business and promoting the site to potential users.

Joyce said the goal is to develop the guide as a “going resource” for those who want to support Black-owned businesses in Colorado. “Black companies have a great opportunity to offer products and services across a wide range of industries, for anyone to participate in and get quality products and services themselves,” he said.

After nationwide social justice protests waned, Joyce said interest in supporting black-owned businesses has waned, but is working to build momentum back up. “We want to make sure that people understand that there is an ongoing need for support,” he said. “For example, you don’t just eat once a day and never eat again; you eat constantly to fuel the body. That’s what has to happen in the black business community; they constantly need an influx of people who buy their products and services from them to maintain and survive “.

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