The Coalition of Black Professionals and the South Arkansas Black Chamber of Commerce will be having its 2nd Annual South Arkansas Black Business Expo & BBQ Fest on September 5.
“El Dorado has a black population that is right at 50% and yet we only make up five percent of registered businesses. So being a resident and advocate for the community, I wanted to create an event that would highlight black businesses here,” founder of the Coalition of Black Professionals and event planner, Markeith Cook said.
And given that the black population in El Dorado is significant, the importance of representation and letting people know where they can go to support black enterprise was a crucial part in doing this event.
“The black community needs to see that we are job creators, business owners, entrepreneurs, just like everyone else,” Cook said.
“I want people to know where they can go and support them. A lot of black businesses are underfunded and can’t afford to do a lot of marketing, so an event like this can be really helpful,” Cook added.
And given that there has been a lot of national discourse around the want to support the black community in light of headlines around systemic injustices, this expo is a timely welcome to the community.
“People are excited. Community members have been coming to me all year to make sure I did this expo. I had been keeping an eye on the pandemic but luckily with things starting to pick back up and us being able to have the event outside, I’m happy to be able to do this for the community,” Cook said.
The expo will be held outdoors at Mattocks Park. This is to help give businesses and attendees more space and to stay in accordance with the guidelines around COVID-19. Close to 50 local black businesses and counting have signed up to attend. There will be several food vendors and live music for people’s enjoyment.
Though the expo is centered around black businesses, everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come.
“This is not an ‘us against them.’ This is not, only shop black. But we want our black businesses to be recognized as well. We like to do business with everyone, but everyone is not choosing to do business with us,” Cook said, “So we want to change that. And to do that, we have to let people know we exist and where they can find us.”
The 2nd Annual South Arkansas Black Business Expo & BBQ Fest will be on September 5 at Mattocks Park from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.