PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The new Black Business Association – Oregon is just beginning to take off, and its newly hired executive director hopes it will serve as a model for similar programs across the country.
The Black Business Association – Oregon aims to champion and promote the successful development of Black-owned businesses in the state. The hiring of its executive director, Lance Randall, was announced on Monday.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity and the support from across the city, across the state, for this initiative,” Randall said in an interview with KOIN 6 News. “We have the opportunity to do something miraculous.”
Randall comes to Portland from Seattle, where he was Director of Economic Development for SouthEast Effective Development, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Southeast Seattle by investing in housing. , the arts and economic development. Randall said the part of Seattle he worked in was one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the country and it gave him the opportunity to work with people from all over the world.
Prior to SouthEast Effective Development, Randall worked for the Seattle Office of Economic Development. He started in development in 1995 in Macon, Georgia where he worked for the Macon Economic Development Commission. Over the decades, he has held various economic development positions and looks forward to bringing his skills to Portland.
He said he saw an opportunity to increase the prosperity of black-owned businesses in Portland after protests following the death of George Floyd – the unarmed black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2018.
“We drew everyone’s attention to calls for social justice. So now the next step is to make sure that we put black businesses, black people as a whole, in a position where they can create wealth and where they can be able to do things that they feel are not have never been able to get done before,” Randall said.
He has big goals for the BBAO. As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and commerce returns to normal, Randall said he hopes to help local black-owned businesses with marketing. He said people will need to know that they are always open and ready to serve.
Staffing issues have impacted every business in Oregon. Randall said the BBAO will help fill employee gaps and provide workforce development opportunities to help companies retain employees.
BBAO will start in the Portland area, but Randall said he plans to expand it as a statewide resource. He hopes the association can encourage black entrepreneurs to set up businesses in cities outside the Portland metro area, in cities with 50,000 or more residents, or in other fast-growing areas of Oregon.
He also plans to encourage out-of-state black-owned businesses to expand in Oregon. He says he will recruit them nationwide and ask them to consider opportunities for their business in Oregon. He sees a lot of potential in Oregon for franchise expansion.
“I’m sure people love having a Waffle House here. It’s something that’s very popular in Georgia, but it will be wonderful to have here,” he said.
In addition to bringing in new black-owned businesses, he wants to make sure that black-owned businesses that are in Oregon stay in Oregon. He said this will require annual visits to business owners to see what they need and to help connect them to government or banking resources if necessary.
Randall said Portland has already made progress since the George Floyd protests. He has seen the accomplishments of black-owned businesses over the past two years and thanks the city for providing opportunities for their success.
The Black Business Association – Oregon is a direct result of actions taken by some black members of the board of the Portland Business Alliance, Randall said. Following the social justice uprising in May 2020, these council members issued a call to action and created a Black Economic Prosperity Agenda for the greater Portland area.
This program aims to develop a regional Black Economic Prosperity Dashboard to measure key metrics of Black economic prosperity in the region and better understand the current economic state of Black residents in the Portland area. The Portland Business Alliance hopes the metrics in this scorecard will help determine solutions to improve economic prosperity for Black residents.
The third part of the agenda was the creation of the Black Business Association to help focus on the scorecard and find solutions.
“As a founding member of the Black Business Association of Oregon, I am delighted to welcome Lance Randall as its new Executive Director,” said Andrew Colas, President and CEO of Colas Construction, Inc. and member of the Portland Business Alliance Board of Directors who helped draft the call to action in June 2020.
Randall says investing in black-owned businesses will help boost Oregon’s economy as a whole. He said that like all businesses, black-owned businesses create jobs and generate taxes.
“I encourage everyone to be part of this effort because if the black community is strong and has a strong economic base, the whole economy will be stronger,” he said.
Randall said the next step for the BBAO will be to launch a website as a resource for black business owners. He hopes it will be online in about 7 weeks. After that, the association will work to create the scorecard to measure key indicators of black economic prosperity in the region. He hopes this will be completed by the end of 2022.
In the meantime, he said people are welcome to contact him now by emailing him at Lance@bbaoregon.org.
Motus Recruiting, the National Association of Minority Contractors – Oregon Chapter and the Portland Business Alliance worked together to hire Randall.
“I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this effort and I’m excited for what’s going to happen in the future,” Randall said.