Temperatures are dropping, but black corporate property is about to heat up thanks to the Rev. Dennis Dillon. The New York Christian Times founder will host the reSURGEnce conference for Black Church and Black Businesses this Thursday, November 17 and the next day, Friday 18 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm The event will feature speakers such as Mayor Eric Adams, Dormitory Authority of New York State Pres. Reuben McDaniel III and “New York Undercover” actor Malik Yoba.
“The reSURGEnce, as the name suggests, is really about creating a resurgence, a revival or a reset, a recharge, shall we say, of Black-owned businesses coming out of the pandemic,” Dillon said. “The pandemic has been profoundly devastating to Black-owned businesses.
“And so this reSURGEnce conference is really about creating a new black economic renaissance. This is really what this is about, and how we work to ensure that all that is needed, and all that is needed to create this renaissance and how all energy and resources should be used to facilitate and create this renaissance.”
But Dillon doesn’t need a Sistine Chapel ceiling. His canvas is the New York area/tri-state black consumer market, which is over $190 billion. Yet black entrepreneurship does not come close to commensurate with community spending power. According to the city, only 3.5 percent of local businesses are owned by blacks. So reSURGence aims to turn the tide by coaching entrepreneurship and assisting in applying for loans, government contracts and franchise opportunities.
In August 2020, a city report found that black entrepreneurs, like most entrepreneurs, face difficulties accessing capital. There was also a need for larger networks and customer acquisition support. And they overwhelmingly open businesses to pursue their passions. But Dillon hopes they can think even bigger.
“We sell culture, we sell cultural food, we sell cultural clothing, we cut hair — for the most part, most of the success Black businesses have experienced has been wrapped around culture,” she said. “And we’re simply saying it’s time for us to move black entrepreneurship into the mainstream. We have to move it a lot towards the mainstream. For example, we’ve been extremely weak in New York and around the world, as it pertains to retail businesses.
“So we want to build more of a retail business, the challenge that we’ve had in the retail space for many years, is the fact that most of the time we don’t own the real estate associated with retail. And in most cases for retail businesses, in order to be truly successful, there needs to be related ownership in relation to real estate.
She adds that ownership of property is key to a real vindication of Black communities, especially in neighborhoods battling gentrification like Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“We’re not in a position where we can truly claim any community as our own, because we don’t actually own the community,” Dillon said. “We just live in it. Only the economy can change that.
Tandy Lau is a member of the Report for America Corps and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps him keep writing stories like this; Please consider giving a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1