Notes from Black Chamber of Commerce annual meeting

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On, January 19, the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce (BCBCC) held its annual meeting at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Beaufort. Larry Holman, the president of the chamber, told the audience that a new Vice President of Community Outreach was added to the team last year.

The BCBCC is not your traditional chamber of commerce.  Their mission is to work with all businesses identified by the federal government in the protected class (disadvantage business enterprise) that need technical assistance and information related to procurement opportunities, employment, certification, access to capital, business development, networking opportunities, and referrals. The black chamber is the facilitator between public and private entities looking to expand their participation with minority and women owned businesses. The BCBCC’s Five Pillars of Services are the cornerstone of the group’s platform.  They represent issues that greatly impact the growth of African-American and small owned businesses in Beaufort and surrounding counties.  Those Five Pillars are: advocacy, access to capital, contracting, entrepreneur training and chamber development.

Holman reported that the BCBCC had a great year in 2012 by increasing membership.  The BCBCC also purchased the building located at 711 Bladen Street to build office space, meeting rooms, training rooms, small business incubators and a museum/art gallery.  They applied and were awarded a matching grant from the South Carolina Parks and Recreation for tourism.  The chamber is also working with the South Carolina Housing Authority to administer the South Carolina Mortgage Help program to help clients avoid foreclosure.  The BCBCC also initiated a Microloan Program to support small and minority businesses that want to expand or develop a new business venture. They have awarded three loans to date. They have a greater presence with the most updated and informative website, www.bcbcc.org, and other social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Our financial literacy program was continued with one eight-week class and two weekly financial classes on developing a business and marketing plan.

The chamber also set the goals for the BCBCC in 2013.