Starting Monday, it’s officially Black Business Week in the City of Beloit.
The City Council made that declaration at its meeting earlier this week at the urging of Rock County Jumpstart Executive Director Genia Stevens.
“That’s a great step forward for the city of Beloit,” Stevens said. “It shows that the city of Beloit is making progress and it shows that the city of Beloit values the contribution that our Black business owners make.”
The proclamation honors an event that’s taken months to plan — Rock County Jumpstart’s inaugural Black Business Expo, a weeklong virtual event to highlight Black-owned businesses — and drive some sales.
“The Black Business Week Expo is designed to capitalize on the busiest shopping week of the year,” Stevens said. “People still have money to spend during the holiday season. We want them to remember our Black business owners. We want to make sure they don’t forget our Black business owners. We want them to buy local and buy Black.”
The Black Business Expo will run from 5 to 7 pm every evening, Monday through Black Friday. Each vendor will have 15 minutes to present their business, describe their goods or services, and answer any questions. The businesses range from custom gift baskets to custom fashion to event design.
The week will culminate in a pop-up event on Saturday, November 28 at The Birch Room, 3807 S Riverside Drive in Beloit. It’ll be a time for businesses who want more than the 15-minute online time, and it’ll be a time for people who ordered goods during the week to pick them up, if they’d prefer pickup to delivery. Masks and social distancing will be required at the event.
Stevens said she designed the expo based on successful similar events in Madison.
“It’s a hybrid version of Collaboration for Good, UpStart, and some pieces of what I see happening at the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce,” she said. Stevens is board chair of the Collaboration for Good.
Rock County Jumpstart also launched its Black Business Directory just in time for the expo.
Stevens said she intends the expo to become an annual event for Rock County — and then beyond.
“My big, big goal is to make Black Business Week a state thing,” she said.
Madison365 is the media sponsor of the Black Business Expo. Other sponsors include Alliant Energy and Collaboration for Good.