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Vol 1 No 2 (a) October, 2021 Black Gold---College Park, GA

Updated: Nov 30, 2021




Black Gold in College Park!

Black-Owned Businesses are quietly powering College Parks' growth, but no one's talking about it or using it to promote economic growth.

Fact:

The City of College Park may well be sitting on a “Pot of Gold” with the opportunity to grow and expand an in-place group of businesses already mushrooming there. The business meets four needs: 1) various city revenues, 2) employment opportunities, and 3) having the local government and local businesses collaborate for mutual benefit. (4) creation of a recognizable "Black Business Cultural District that brings worldwide recognition


The Opportunity:

Though no one group will grow and develop College Park alone, some people have received well-deserved attention for their work to improve the City. Stories that claim entrepreneurs are building, revitalizing, and even saving College Park focus primarily on white professionals and the Airport CID and revitalizing the southside of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

However, I offer Black entrepreneurs have quietly built a "Black Restaurant Row" worthy of promotion and recognition as a Black business district. These businesses bring about employment, tax payments, building occupancy, circulating wealth, and opening doors to other opportunities, such as higher education and lifestyle. They are beginning to underwrite the future of College Park and, with help, can take it even higher.


When coupled with the other attractions located in College Park and Aerotropolis Atlanta, College Park should take advantage of this unique marketplace and promote the same as a food and tourist attraction. If supported properly, it is easy to believe that similar businesses will locate within the City even more. It would become a Black Business Cultural District exemplifying GA Black businesses' abilities, products, and services.


The City should not be afraid to be known for its Black businesses and use them to attract visitors and diners to their main street. It has a MARTA station and is minutes away from Hartsfield -Jackson International Airport. Both can be further utilized to headline and promote a Black restaurant District.


Why, there is no Black food or even designated Black business area in the Atlanta Metro Area. College Park now has the beginnings of such a Cultural Restaurant experience. Visitors to Atlanta look to find such places and attractions. When you recognize that Atlanta is the number one tourist destination for Black tourists in America and that foreign visitors would love to visit places to join in the Black experience. Atlanta is also the number one desired location for Black businesses in the US. This recognition enables the City of College Park to build upon the facts and enhance its economic base with an enterprising marketing opportunity that is mutually beneficial to itself, the business owners, and its citizens.


Cultural Branding as a Value Add and College Park can separate itself from all other communities:

In some cities, you have Chinatown, Koreatown, and other ethnic locales. Still, there are few if any designated Black business towns. Why not promote this? Are we afraid to point out the dominant businesses are Black? College Park has the historical, cultural, and community roots to develop a cultural brand for itself while at the same time expanding its desires described in the plans surrounding the Aerotropolis


Why? In recent years Black restaurants have been in College Park but were not supported to remain alive. This is the opportunity to correct that error. There is no real competition. Locally, even though there are many ethnic businesses along Buford Highway in Dekalb County, one would not know it!


Through marketing, when people come to convention center events or a basketball game, let us orient them into coming early or staying late to enjoy the area's uniqueness. The Main Street area could become a focal point for this cultural restaurant market.

The potential as an economic tool is evident. While many restaurant workers are seen as low-wage earners, the average Atlanta restaurant worker's salary is $22,300 above the national poverty level. College Park's current workforce of approximately 15 000 persons, of which 80% are Black and 87% have a High School education, are ideally suited to satisfy the demand of these restaurants with little additional training. Statistically speaking, more than 66% of Black business employees will be Black as the current businesses exhibit.

Currently, the Aerotropolis and its affiliate municipalities are focused on the traditional path of growth ground in significant business development, with small businesses serving as a secondary source. But if you look at the economic opportunities embedded in small, locally owned businesses. You will see the multiplier results from the fact that independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far higher percentage of revenue locally than absentee-owned businesses (or locally-owned franchises*). In other words, focusing on local Black companies will create more local wealth and jobs for the dominant Black citizenry. The benefits to College Park will be demonstrated in the economic outcomes of local business spending.


The benefits will be comprised of three elements — the direct, indirect, and induced impacts.

· The direct impact –the spending is done by a business in the local economy to operate the market, including inventory, utilities, equipment, and pay to employees.

· Indirect impact –the dollars the local business spent at other area businesses recirculated.

· Induced impact ---the additional consumer spending that happens as employees, business owners, and others spend their income in the local economy.


The Black restaurants could be promoted as an alliance located within College Park and have their specific graphics, materials, websites, and more.

An alliance could also support businesses by defining taxation or other governmental policies, forming an industry supporting training function, supporting and underwriting marketing function.

The Benefit:

A Black Restaurants Cultural District would bring College Park:

1. Wages and Benefits; Providing salaries and benefits such as retirement plans of owners and employees

2. Direct community supply investments and donations: supporting local infrastructure, health, education, social organizations, etc.

3. Local recruitment: Hiring employees locally and providing contracts to other local businesses

4. Philanthropy: Underwriting community needs

5. Provide the community shareholder value: Dividends such as stability, growth, less crime, etc.

6. Keeping dollars in the community to help in reducing sprawl

7. Competition –creates lower prices

8. Environmental stability

9. Other tourist-oriented businesses will also begin to locate in College Park

10. Local, national, and international recognition of College Park as a cultural district over time


Additional studies show that local companies, when compared to leading chain competitors, generate twice the annual sales, recirculate revenue within the local economy at twice the rate, and, on a per square foot basis, have four times the economic impact. Investing in locally owned businesses is a cost-effective way to grow the College Park economy and is compatible with existing commercial districts' development patterns. The City can stimulate wealth creation and retention by developing a coordinated strategy that focuses on local business growth. Through incentives, risk mitigation, and improved service delivery from City Hall, it can maximize local businesses in new developments and redevelopment of commercial properties citywide. Further, becoming known as a tourism destination can create economic growth and stability. Tourism creates simple jobs making employment available to a more significant segment of the Black community.

Restaurants and service providers generate a massive multiplier because they are labor-intensive. As the Cultural Restaurant District grows, more support businesses will be required and come to College Park creating even more employment opportunities. Therefore, more of each dollar of revenue goes to local payroll. Black restaurants will create significant economic activity through dollar turnover and employment to underwrite many of the employment needs of the current and surrounding community. Yes, they may not pay the highest wage. Still, they employ people who may otherwise be unemployed, the people in the dominant population in the City. Additionally, this would employ “today’s” College Park people, “who need jobs now,” as the city continues to develop for its tomorrow and they should not be ignored.


What could College Park do?

The City should pursue both economic strategies—aggressively going after the big boys while expanding and developing the Black restaurant row. More significant local business employees are future customers.


The City cannot marginalize the effort. The City must develop with intent. The City would need to take the next step to take advantage of its Black restaurant assets by:

· Developing a 10-year Black restaurant plan

· Recognizing and Promoting its Black Cultural Restaurant District

· Forming a Local Main Street Business Alliance. Such an alliance could offer resources, training connections, and camaraderie.

· Creating appropriate policies

· Incentivize the effort with support tools

· Specifically recruit Black restaurants to enhance the mix and offerings—This is where incentives come in

· Developing a local campaign designed to shift culture and spending to College Park

· Promoting, engaging, and forming partnerships with others to highlight the District, i.e., MARTA, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, and the Atlanta Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

· Have City economic development function focus on leading this renaissance and respond to creative needs along with performing other supportive requirements


The Resolve:

College Park (1) has the required governmental structure that includes duly elected and appointed Black officials. (2) Has control of policy creation and implementation. (3) Has an economic development arm with the potential of implementing this idea (4) an ideal location (5) rail and bus transportation coupled with a transportation corridor to south Georgia connectivity (6) The space to increase and grow idea along with supportive services.


Conclusion:

While Atlanta is happy to recognize Black businesses to promote the majority interest, it is hesitant to support Black businesses as an essential economic tool. College Park has that opportunity. Will they take it?


Is College Park afraid to identify with these Black businesses and help them grow and cause the City to grow? To be recognized as a Black business Cultural District featured, City cannot be all bad, significantly when it can help the City now and in the future. Once the tax dollars are in the city cash register, they have no color but benefit all. The intentional recognition as a Black food destination will bring both local and international benefits as an attraction for College Park.


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