Black Businesses

Now Is the Time to Start a Small Business in Tulsa

Opinion | By Contributor Charity Marcus

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Tulsa has quietly exploded in the national entrepreneurship scene over the past two years, racking up rankings with notable publications, such as “Forbes,” “Nerdwallet,” and “Thumbtack Journal,” as one of the nation’s best cities to start a business in. Only six months into 2017, Tulsa has already been ranked by “WalletHub” as the fourth best city to start a business.

So what does that mean for Tulsans? It means opportunity. But the real question is: How does that pan out for Tulsa’s Black Community?

Reports of business opportunity and growth leave many black Tulsans lost in translation. As Tulsans look north, it is obvious that businesses rapidly dissipate. Despite the rich economic history of the Black Wall Street and historic Greenwood Business District, Black Tulsa struggles economically.

Black Wall Street, a thriving black economy, was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but it was rebuilt bigger and better in the aftermath. However, the Black community has continuously eroded since the onset of desegregation and urban renewal.

And that brings us back to today, where we are trying to figure out how to move a community forward that has faced one economic roadblock after another.

The answer is in the reports: Starting a business in one of the nation’s best cities to start a business!

As a community, Black Tulsans must choose to take advantage of these opportunities and resources, or else we will continue to be left behind economically, dependent on state and federal government assistance. The best way to rebuild a community is through improving its economics.

Economic development that relies on members of the community it benefits, not the local government, is the formula that has been proven to work. Just ask those who rebuilt the Black Wall Street.

While we face economic and social hurdles, minority business ownership is the future of the community; locally, state-wide, and nationally. As long as Tulsa’s budget relies heavily on sales tax to operate, the need for small business growth and entrepreneurship in minority communities will continue to be a hidden need left unaddressed. A need that we must bring to light by getting out there, investing in, and creating a strong, stable minority economy.

Until Oklahoma state legislators diversify municipal funding sources, minority-owned businesses, specifically African-Americans in Tulsa, are the answer to increasing Tulsa’s revenue; re-stabilizing the North Tulsa community; and funding local education, by creating and financially supporting charter schools directly in the community – School Choice.

Starting and operating a small business is no easy task. It takes time, commitment, perseverance, and hard work, none of which we, as a community, fail to possess. Access to resources, disparities in funding, and general lack of knowledge of business operations are the three hurdles that we face today. These three roadblocks are just that: roadblocks that can easily be removed. With the internet at our fingertips, we can now “google” for more information on resources, alternative funding options, and guides to business 101.

So let’s CHOOSE to not let the past tragedies of Tulsa’s history, the current social and economic issues, or the fear of uncertainty and lack of information stop us becoming a powerhouse for Tulsa’s economic boost.

If you are ready to join the Tulsa that “Forbes” is talking about and be one of those small business owners or entrepreneurs, then check out the list of resources below to get started:

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Resources

1 Million Cups

BetaBlox

City of Tulsa Small Business Enterprise

i2E (For tech startups)

Minority Business Development Agency

National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) (For tech startups)

Oklahoma Department of Commerce

Oklahoma Small Business Development Center

Score Tulsa

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Startup Oklahoma

Tulsa County Library Business Center

Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC)

Tulsa Small Business Connection

Tulsa Startup Series

Business Incubators & Co-Working Space

36 Degrees North

The Bridge

The Forge

Savage Space

CHARITY MARCUS IS THE CEO & CHIEF CONSULTANT OF AVENU CONSULTING, A BOUTIQUE CONSULTING FIRM BASED IN TULSA, OKLAHOMA, SPECIALIZING IN POLITICAL, PUBLIC RELATIONS, AND BUSINESS/NONPROFIT DEVELOPMENT CONSULTING.