Some South Mississippi business and community leaders are pushing for more funding opportunities for minority business owners. The first ever Mississippi Business Leaders Forum took place in Gulfport over the weekend. The concerns are bringing people from across the Coast together.
Boyd James runs his own tax preparation business. He says there's nothing better than being your own boss.
"To be a business owner is one of the most wonderful things in the world," said James. "We have an opportunity to experience the American dreams. Plenty of folks don't really understand capitalism means owning your own business. Having in my case a service and providing a service to people for a profit."
Increasing profits was on the minds of Coast business owners, as well as, elected officials and community leaders who gathered on Saturday. They discussed ways to get more financial resources available at the state level to trickle down into the hands of minority business owners.
Bishop James Black is Executive Director for the Center of Environmental and Economic Justice.
"Too many times in the past when dollars have come to the Gulf Coast minorities have been left out of the economic process," Black said. "So we're forming ourselves together coastwide to make sure that we are part of the economic development and part of the restoration as in relation to the settlement that is coming from BP."
Black said, "So it's important that we be informed as well. That we be at the table to make sure that minorities are getting their fair share."
The group also wants to teach business owners how to best utilize any funding they receive.
"There will be some training. You can't just give folks money and then expect them to be successful often times," Black said. "There will be business training and other training, CPAs involved to business development specialist involved."
"So we're looking forward to all these components coming together to help business and economic development."
The Center for Environmental and Economic Justice sponsored the event. Officials said they plan to take their concerns to the governor and other state elected officials.
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