Central Florida’s Black Chamber Making History By Assisting Black Businesses

ORLANDO – The African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida (“the Chamber”) is a membership organization serving public, private, and not-for-profit African American-owned businesses and organizations in Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties. For over seven decades, the Chamber has served its members as an advocate and resource. Established in 1945, the Chamber is a members-only network devoted to cultivating a thriving business environment for African American companies, an engaged public awareness for minority firms, and education and advocacy for both members and the Central Florida community.

Our mission is to be the principal advocate and preeminent leader in fostering economic success for African American owned businesses and the African American business community in Central Florida.

We currently have over 700 amazing members with diverse backgrounds in varying fields ( from the technology industry, construction, medical and legal fields, to food and beverage to name a few….our members are rockstars in their areas of business).

As a Chamber we stand on the four pillars of Advocacy, Access to Capital, Contracts and Education and Training Development.

In the year 2020 , during the time of the pandemic and great uncertainty, we were one of the only Chambers of Commerce to award over $100,000 in grant money to minority owned businesses and continued to award grants in 2021.

In 2022, in partnership with IKEA U.S. Community Foundation we awarded $75,000 in grant funds to business owners. These funders were dispersed in two ways.  The first disbursement was in the amount of $20,000 awarded to participants of the AACCCF Inaugural Pitch Competition at the 3rd Annual Empowerment Business Conference. Three business owners had the opportunity to pitch their businesses in front of corporations, community stakeholders, financial institutions and other business owners.  The first prize winner was awarded $10,000, second prize was awarded $7,000 and third prize was awarded $3,000.

The second disbursement of this grant took place with eleven black-owned businesses applying for and receiving the B.E.A.C.O.N (Black Entrepreneurs Are Creating Opportunities Now) Business Development Grant. Combining the mission of AACCCF to be the principal advocate and preeminent leader in fostering economic success for African American-owned businesses and the African American business community in Central Florida and the IKEA vision to create a better everyday life for the many people, the “Black Entrepreneurs Are Creating Opportunities Now” (BEACON) business development grant has been created.   The BEACON business development grant aims to provide funding for Black-owned businesses that are committed to creating employment opportunities and contributing to the social and economic growth of the Central Florida community.   BEACON grant funds can be used for marketing, advertising, hiring employees, employee retention, expanding facilities and other specific business needs.

The winners of the award were announced at our 2022 Holiday Business After Hours event at the University Club. Each business received $5000 in grant funding, for a total of $55,000 awarded.

Additionally, our annual Golf Outing and Player Development Clinic allowed us to award a total of $10,000 in grant money to two business owners/Chamber members who were impacted by the 2022 hurricanes.

This year, in partnership with BeyGOOD (Beyonce’ Knowles non-profit organization), and with Adidas, $500,000 will be awarded to minority owned businesses who were impacted by the hurricanes last year.

Additionally, we launched our first accelerator program for established business owners:  Accelerate Central Florida.  This program was sponsored by our Trustee Wells Fargo, and used the award winning curriculum StreetWise MBA powered by Interise.  Historically after completing the StreetWise MBA, business experience double digit growth rates, create jobs faster than the private sector, with higher average salaries and better benefits. Our first inaugural cohort will graduate on March and our first cohort of businesses will graduate on March 23, 2023.

Furthermore, we created opportunities for our members, corporations and financial institutions to meet, learn, and do business at CEO Roundtables, Supplier and Diversity Roundtables, networking events, golf outings and during our 3rd annual Empowerment Business Conference.

Similar to last year, we will continue to advocate for black-owned businesses at Black Chamber Day at the Capital next month (March) in Tallahassee.

We area also excited to announce our 19th annual Eagle Awards Gala will take place on May 20, 2023 at Disney Resort’s Coronado Springs Resort. This signature event celebrates Black excellence and recognizes businesses that have made a positive impact on the Central Florida community.

Membership to the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida has its benefits. Our members have access to networking events, grant opportunities, ribbon cuttings, monthly newsletters, opportunities to be highlighted on our social media platforms and so much more.  We also have two successful LEADs Groups in the Chamber.  New Member Orientation is held virtually the first Tuesday of every month and in-person, the last Tuesday of each month.

Information regarding our membership levels and upcoming events and workshops can be found on our website: www.blackcommerce.org, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.