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Friday, Jun 2, 2023

Santa Clarita Launches Black Business Committee

The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has launched an initiative to promote minority-owned businesses. Earlier this year, it created a Black Business Committee to support black-owned businesses in the region. The committee, which any chamber member can join, looks to boost attention for minority-owned companies and businesses through mixers, fundraisers, mentors and other events. “Basically, there’s a need for this in black businesses in this community who aren’t aware of the chamber,” said Kacey Thorps, a Santa Clarita real estate agent who helped establish the Black Business Committee last fall. “It’s to let them know that there are other resources here in the Valley.” The committee has hosted a networking social every other month as well as some mixers and is planning a scholarship fund. “We’re doing very well,” Thorps said. The committee one of 12 that operates as the advisory board for the 1,730-member business advocacy group is modeled on the chamber’s successful Hispanic Business Committee, which was formed in 2004 and now has 80 members. Chamber President and CEO Larry Mankin said the minority-focused committees recognize the changing demographics of the Santa Clarita Valley. “We see a lot more people of color coming to general chamber events,” he said. “Our African American population is not that large, but our Hispanic is,” Mankin said, by some counts growing to represent 25 percent of the Santa Clarita Valley. Mankin said it made sense to have a committee to focus on specific ethnicities even though anyone can join. “They’re not exclusive in how they do business,” he said. “We don’t care about the color of their skin. We care about the color of their money.” The Santa Clarita chamber joins a number of other Valley-area chambers that focus on specific ethnic groups, including the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Glendale-based Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, San Fernando Valley Black Chamber, Regional Black Chamber of Commerce and San Fernando Valley Filipino-American Chamber. When asked what’s stopping the minority-focused committees from branching off and forming their own chamber, Mankin said the members realize that by operating within the chamber, they can act independently while benefiting from chamber contacts and resources. “I think they recognize the value of being associated with us. There’s real value in that,” he said. “They could have the best of both worlds.”

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