Directory seeks to spark sales at black-owned businesses in Youngstown

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It’s something that has never been done in Youngstown before — marketing businesses that are sometimes overlooked. 

It’s called the Youngstown Black Businesses Directory. It’s a directory of local black- and minority-owned businesses. 

“It has been needed in the Valley for a long time,” said Kelan Bilal, owner of Excalibur Barber Grooming.

Charles Colvin and his business partner, Arthur Ward, started the directory to shed light on the businesses and start an “entrepreneurship hub.” 

That hub is online at YoungstownBlackBusinessDirectory.com. Any black- or minority-owned business can register for free on the site.

“Free publicity is always wonderful,” said Bilal.

Bilal said this wasn’t available when he first started his luxury barbershop in 2013. He said when the business opened, many people didn’t know where it was located. 

“Any black business that opens up, everyone should know about it,” Ward said. 

Kingsley Hand Wash and Wax owner Julius Oliver had a hard time bridging the gap between customers and his business in the beginning.

“I had to wait for them to come in. Word of mouth is great, but being able to find your business is even better,” he said. 

The Youngstown Black Business Directory stands in between that gap, making it easier to support black-owned businesses.

According to Nielsen, last year, black consumers spent $1.2 trillion nationally. Out of every dollar that was spent, only two cents went back to black-owned businesses.

“That’s a major problem amongst our community,” Ward said. 

With the businesses they plan to register, it could change those statistics and help the economic landscape in the Valley. 

“If we generate at least $1,000 extra for those businesses, that’s $3 million, which is a huge boom for economic development,” Colvin said. 

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