EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — This Saturday will mark the 2nd Annual Black Business Expo which will showcase over 50 different businesses in South Arkansas and about 15 to 20 different business sectors will be represented.
“Currently, we have about 55 businesses that have signed up so far,” Founder of the Coalition of Black Professionals,” Markeith Cook said. “We have businesses that customize cars. We have construction companies. We have car dealers, boutiques, stylists. You name it.”
Cook believes this is the best way for businesses to market themselves, network with others and it also gives the community to get a glimpse of what each business has to offer. Not only will this increase support among the city and region but Cook is sure it will boost the economy as well.
“We live in El Dorado and El Dorado is over 50 percent population but we have about 5 percent of registered businesses which is a really big discrepancy but I know more businesses than that exist,” he said.
“This is where all the opportunity is right now in growth. If we could increase black entrepreneurship alone, you would see a robust economy booming just from that. I felt like there was a gap here that wasn’t happening that a lot of those businesses weren’t being highlighted and we know black dollars lead black neighborhoods a lot faster than any demographic in the country.”
Last year, the group saw a successful turnout when they had it during Black History Month at Mellor Park mall. More than 1,000 people attended the event.
“Based on the success we had several business owners asking if we were going to do it again this year,” Cook said.
It almost looked like the event wouldn’t be held this year due to the pandemic wreaking havoc across the world but as things began to open up, plans for the event started to make progress.
“We saw an opportunity to do it outside to get passed some of the regulations we would have inside,” he said. “I did a survey for those that attended last year and those that expressed an interest weren’t able to attend. I received an overwhelming support that everyone would participate outside.”
Cook is encouraging everyone to come out and support these businesses. It will also be a good opportunity to show and explain to the youth about entrepreneurship.
“This is not a black thing where we only want Black people to shop with Black people. We just want to highlight the black businesses. Historically, black businesses are going to be the least funded. So, therefore they’re not gonna have as much money to market their business and are not highlighted or not see as much as some of the counterparts,” Cook said.
“This is just one day. We want you to take a few minutes out of your day to come out and just see some of the businesses and what they have to offer.”
The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mattocks Park. There will be a live DJ and food vendors. Wearing masks and remaining 6 feet distance from others is strongly encouraged.