Two people smile while wearing black shirts and holding cards that say "Ask me what I do"

CWRU’s inaugural Black Business Expo debuts June 20

Hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, Black-owned small businesses suffered more than three times the decline of other businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Because there are more than 2 million Black-owned small businesses in the U.S.—generating more than $15 billion in economic activity, according to recent Census data—investing in these businesses is important for overall economic health. 

Case Western Reserve University’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Engagement hopes to play a role in helping grow such businesses with its inaugural Black Business Expo.

Taking place Tuesday, June 20, and open to the public from 12:30 to 6 p.m. in the Tinkham Veale University Center ballroom, the Black Business Expo will showcase Black businesses from around Greater Cleveland, while giving vendors the resources needed to enhance their businesses. 

The event runs concurrently with the university’s Juneteenth celebration.

“By participating in the Expo, Black business owners will get an exclusive opportunity prior to the public event to network and learn from financial literacy experts from TIAA Financial Services, Cleveland’s Real Black Friday Black-owned business initiative and The President’s Council,” said Diversity Program Manager Tiara Sargeant, one of the lead organizers of the event. 

Members of the Case Western Reserve and surrounding communities are encouraged to attend to learn more about these vendors’ offerings and perhaps even purchase products and services. Community engagement with and support of Black-owned small businesses not only facilitates economic growth—it furthers the building of generational wealth among Black entrepreneurs in Cleveland. 

“It is our hope that this expo will provide valuable information and product exposure for Black businesses,” said Heather Burton, associate vice president and senior director for faculty and institutional diversity. “We are committed to implementing projects and programs that not only provide services but also provide information and education. The business expo is a time both to learn the business of being a business and to garner customer support.” 

Individuals or organizations interested in being vendors at the June 20 event—free of cost—should fill out the vendor participation registration form.

Those who would like to refer a Black-owned business to take part in the expo should contact G. Tiara Sargeant