BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More minorities are now business owners in the city.
As Weijia Jiang explains, the huge spike hasn’t gone unnoticed.
At the Teavolve Cafe in Harbor East, business is going very smoothly.
Sunni Gilliam and her fiancé opened up in 2005, part of a huge spike in minority-owned businesses in the Baltimore area.
“We have people coming from Randallstown, Pikesville, Columbia,” said Gilliam.
The U.S. Census shows from 2002 to 2007 the number of African-American owned companies grew by 61 percent, three times the overall growth, to nearly 40,000.
Baltimore Chamber of Commerce president Charles Owens says now those businesses are thriving.
“African-Americans have been in recession since 1620, when we first came here, so we know how to make do in hard times,” said Owens.
Gilliam says she won’t sugarcoat it and admits there are challenges to owning a business. She says she won’t color-code it either, and says tough times exist no matter who you are. She says it’s the support of the minority community that makes a difference.
“When we can speak to someone who mirrors you, who looks like you, you feel confident that you could also achieve something great, could also achieve your dreams,” said Gilliam.
Brittany Williams — who works for Gilliam — couldn’t agree more. She hopes to open a store of her own one day.
“It shows anything is possible and it’s not always about being at a big corporation, corporate America,” said Williams.
Instead, it’s about independent America, which analysts say will get sweeter with time.
The number of minority-owned businesses make up about 15 percent of all businesses in Maryland.