Christopher C. Herring 

"It's All About Business, All The Time"

Dear Members,

As the re-elected Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce, I would like to thank each of you for your continued support of the only state organization focused on empowering 250,000+ Texas Black-owned businesses.

As I look at the many complex issues impacting African-Americans across Texas and the United States, clearly the lack of inclusion of Black-owned businesses in the day to day economy and the overall operations of our cities and towns is the greatest impact not generating the news headlines.   But for many of us who have experiences growing up in Black communities, we understand the rise of violence, crimes, and even high drop out rates in Texas schools is because we no longer have the mom and pop businesses within our communities.  How do we encourage economic development in our neighborhoods without being run out under gentrification rules?

I believe there is more focus placed on African-Americans being the #1 consumer group by research companies, than research that supports the investment of building capacity and providing access to capital for Black businesses to aid in the restoration our market place.

From the state level, independently, we do see you fight the good fight.  However, collectively, we know we have not overcome.   While we have a significant rise in the Texas Black population (estimated #2 in the nation by the next Census), to the rapid formation or migration of 250,000 Black owned businesses in Texas, we are disappointed to see a sharp decline and a record low 1.22% participation rate for Black-owned Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) under state agency contracts.   While HUB programs were established under a legal decision to support doing more with African-American businesses within Texas, our state agencies have chosen to spend nearly 12-15% of state taxes from Black families and give it to every other group as equal benefactors.  I am sad to report, even with state level director endorsements, and Memorandums of Cooperation in place, good faith efforts have declined.  What does this mean to you?   This means for you for you to be even more vigilant and more vocal in your pursuits to invest in the organization that cares for your family, your business and your growth.  TAAACC will continue to engage and tell your story.

On a positive note, to address the needs of the Black business community, and truly understand how diversity and inclusion works, TAAACC hired Mr. Charles O'Neal to lead us as President.   We are walking into two new roles together. We are fortunate to retain the vast leadership, experience and counsel of Mr. Jim Wyatt, our Immediate Past Chair.   Together, we have shaped the Texas business case and discussions to move our issues forward.  To that end, we had a very successful "Black Business Day" at the Capitol on March 31, 2017, by revealing the problems, and our solutions.   

The opportunity to meet with you enabled new Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, to hear your concerns and to receive our recommendations to ensure a "Ferguson" does not happen in any city in Texas.   We found Governor Abbott to be reasonable as we shared the mutual goals of advancing the state of Texas economy to the #1 in the nation.   Again, our Governor understands to reach this goal, we all have to advance together!

As a retired United States Air Force officer, I sometimes will refer to the battle field as a frame of reference.   My view as the commander is simple:  increase participation of Black businesses and more opportunities will occur for us; empower Black businesses to grow and state receives more revenues;  increase participation and establish new business clusters which allows more money to be spent and recycle across our neighborhoods; and lastly increase Black business participation enables the state to reduce unemployment, other cost associated to high levels of stress and anxiety that is fueling America's race time bomb.  This is all about business!

As a business owner of a private school,  I hope you can appreciate and understand we are endorsers of building up our state by creating jobs through entrepreneurship.   We know that financial literacy and business building is a solution to eradicate generational poverty.   We also know that any effort to focus on poverty is just not a quick discussion of how many jobs are available to us by large corporations.   As we look at the issues of gentrification and the displacement of Black people, we understand the Black family is far worse off than before they move out of their neighborhoods into poorer environments.   While I am a Christian, I know that my faith is much more than my prayers that go up but it is a discussion of action steps or works that make the power attainable and live.    

I hope you understand your business survival is based on not only your actions and what you can see, but it is based on what you can't see.   It is our goal to keep you covered when new legislation is proposed that pushes you you further from your business and financial goals.   I understand, when good faith efforts continue to fail our chamber members,  you need for us to address the matter, and represent you to your elected officials in Austin and influence their decision making.    This is the work of your state chamber with the oversight of your local Black chambers and business owners who make up the Board of Directors.    Your participation facilitates moving us forward.  Please join, renew or refer TAAACC to empower and provide access for your Black business to grow!

    Best Wishes & May God Bless You,

Christopher C. Herring     
Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce-(TAAACC)-Austin TX  
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