Big Bend Chamber plans to help minority businesses with latest donation

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Being an entrepreneur has become quite a thing nowadays.

Some of the fledgling businesses operate door-to-door and others are more traditional in brick and mortar. However, all have one thing in common – they need resources to help promote growth.

Antonio Jefferson, president of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, has seen how knowing what to do could be beneficial.  The scenario is one that Jefferson referenced at a press conference to announced a $25,000 donation from Truist Foundation.

“A lot of people aspire to be in business, but at the end of the day they don’t know how to get there,” Jefferson said. “They know what they do, really, really well, but don’t know what to do to make that a main-street-facing business.

“That’s what this chamber wants to do so these businesses could go out and be part of this ecosystem in Tallahassee-Leon County.”

The donation from Truist will be used to provide support, training and education to stimulate grassroots economic growth and development for minority-owned businesses and organizations that work to expand economic opportunities for families, a statement from the Chamber said.

The chamber received the donation a day after it presented a $43,000 check to the Leon County Schools. That is in addition to $100,000 the organization has given to the school district foundation for assisting teachers with classroom needs.

Chris Mills, Market President at Truist, said the donation to the chamber is the first “pay-it-forward check” from the bank. At the same time, it solidifies a partnership between the two entities.

“I’m excited about this partnership,” Mills said.

Truist joins a growing list of corporate donors that include Wal-Mart and HCA Healthcare. Wal-Mart, which gives $20,000 annually, has also donated as much as $60,000 at once, Jefferson said.

Speaking at the event in the atrium at the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, Attorney Sean Pittman who founded the chamber, applauded Truist.

“Partnership,” he said. “You can’t do anything without partnerships. Opportunities like this; partners like Truist gives us the opportunity to help our members grow. Gives us the opportunity to take them from wherever they’re sitting beyond those walls because we are bringing training, education and expertise. That’s what we are here for.”

Having the Truist donation earmarked for helping women and minority businesses is in good hands with the Chambers, said Keith Bowers, director of the Office of Economic Vitality.

“The Big Bend Minority Chamber is rolling up their sleeves and meeting these business owners where they are,” Bowers said. “They’re holding their hands and cheering them on as they progress. I think that’s where the focus should be because a lot of time entrepreneurs think they’re out there on their own.

“With organizations like the Big Bend Minority Chamber, they don’t have to be on their own.”

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