• Study: Memphis #1 for black entrepreneurs

    By: Jeremy Pierre

    Updated:

    A study released Tuesday shows Memphis ranks number one in the country for attracting black entrepreneurs.

    Ekundayo Bandele said it comes as no surprise Memphis is ranked number one.


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    “I think the main reason is that we have an African-American majority population here,” Bandele said.

    A study released Tuesday by Fast Company explains how Memphis is ranked over Birmingham and Atlanta when it comes to attracting black entrepreneurs. 

    Bandele moved to Memphis in 1994 and began developing the Hattiloo Theater.

    Bandele told FOX13 the affordability of Memphis is also attracting.

    “Oh my God yes. I’m from Brooklyn, New York and of course what I would pay for a studio apartment there, I can buy a house here,” Bandele said. 

    Bandele said the city invested $1.5 million into the Hattiloo Theater for infrastructure on their state of the art building in Overton Square.

    Bandele said the city has also made way for his theater to lease a building in North Memphis for a dollar a year. 

    Bandele said he has also expressed interest in the Brooks Museum once it’s vacated.

    “All of our vendors are African-American businesses, so where we get our toilet paper, who cleans our carpet, who takes care of our HVAC, who takes care of our electrical. So understanding we are a black theater, we are a black organization, we want to support the community we serve,” Bandele said.

    Bandele said he has expressed to city leaders how important it is to continue investing in black businesses in Memphis.

    “I keep their feet to the fire by pushing the envelope and saying there needs to be evidence that black people live here in Memphis. That evidence comes in the form of business,” Bandele said.

    The City of Memphis is pleased to be recognized by FastCompany as #1 for African American Entrepreneurs.  

    This is yet another prestigious organization like Black Tech Week, Living Cities and National League of Cities that has recognized our progress. 

    Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis City Council are committed to ensuring equity in Memphis’ economic development activities.

    The City of Memphis released this statement to FOX13 in regard to city minority contracts: 

    “The proof is shown through our intentional, proactive and strategic efforts that are working. Since Mayor Strickland took office we were able to increase MWBE spend in City contracting by 69% and leverage resources to increase opportunities for MWBEs in the public and private sector. 
     
    Yet, there is more to be done. We will continue refining our efforts along with collaborating with community partners and other stakeholders to ensure equity for all minority entrepreneurs in Memphis. We Mean Business.”

    – Joann Massey, Director, Office of Business Diversity & Compliance
     

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