Credit expert and businesswoman Ebony Cochran wants to help give African-Americans interested in entrepreneurship a leg up. The St. Clair Shores-based Blackwood Credit Services LLC owner has planned a business licensing and startup fair she says is ...
Credit expert and businesswoman Ebony Cochran wants to help give African-Americans interested in entrepreneurship a leg up.
The St. Clair Shores-based Blackwood Credit Services LLC owner has planned a business licensing and startup fair she says is designed to break down barriers and give back to the community free of charge.
"I'm teaching what I wish someone taught me when I started my first company," Cochran said.
The credit consultant will host Detroit Black Wall Street on Wednesday to offer Limited Liability Company (LLC) and an Employer Identification Number (EIN) preparation services for no cost. Documents can be prepared and shipped off the same day, Cochran said. The business startup fair will also offer programs that cover how African-American dollars are spent and credit building.
Citing LegalZoom.com Inc., Cochran noted that the services being offered at the event could cost $200 at minimum for consultation, not including attorney and document preparation fees.
"The thing about Detroit is that we have a lot of resources to take advantage of," Cochran said. "I'm finding a lot of people from out of town that are coming in and taking advantage of these resources because they are doing the research and ultimately the climate downtown reflects that."
The seminar is open to the public and people of all races, but Cochran is making a deliberate effort to provide resources that could inspire more black metro Detroit residents to go into business themselves.
Detroit Black Wall Street will be a hub of resources to bridge the gap for funding and growth opportunities that African-American entrepreneurs face. Cochran said she was inspired by her clients who have great ideas or services to offer, but they do not know the ABCs to starting or advancing their company.
"I did a funding ebook and it has 50 funding opportunities in Michigan," Cocrhran said. "They didn't just fall in my lap. I wanted to eliminate the excuses. If you can't afford to pay to have these documents prepared, we're doing it for free. What's the next excuse?"
Among the 50 most populated cities across the country, Detroit has the highest concentration of black-owned businesses, according to a 2012 U.S. Census survey of businesses owners, the most recent data provided to Crain's by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Of the city's approximately 62,000 total companies, about 47,640, or 77 percent, are African-American owned. Accounting for the entire Detroit region, 20 percent of the area's nearly 400,000 businesses with or without paid employees were owned by African-Americans, the data showed.
Ivy Simmons, vice president of membership services for the National Business League Inc., pointed out that there is a disparity in the number of people that black businesses are able to employ as a large number of them are a one-person operation.
"That's where you see a difference in access to capital and relative revenue and assets," Simmons explained.
While the number of women-owned businesses have been on the rise in the past two decades, a report by Fortune says African-American women have been starting businesses at the fastest rate than any other subgroup across the country.
As of 2015, the number of businesses owned by African-American women grew 322 percent since 1997, compared to the overall number of women-owned businesses that grew by 74 percent in that same time frame.
Detroit has been a hot spot for startups with programs being offered by the city and organizations such as Motor City Match and Build Institute that were designed to help advance the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The name Detroit Black Wall Street is reminiscent of the city's former Black Bottom and Tulsa, Okla.,'s Black Wall Street neighborhoods that were hubs of black-owned businesses built during the height of the Jim Crow south and segregation in America.
Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect the credit consulting firm's current office location.
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