15 Years Later…Texas Black Expo Set to Once Again Engage the Community and Empower Local Entrepreneurs

ABOVE: Jerome Love

In a few weeks, roughly 10,000 Texans will converge on the George R. Brown Convention Center over the course of four days to attend one of the most anticipated business events of the year – the Texas Black Expo Summer Celebration.

Now in its 15th year, Texas Black Expo (TBE) brings together entrepreneurs, corporate giants, civic leaders, celebrities and families – all in the name of strengthening the community.

The TBE Summer Celebration will take place June 7–10, and will feature a variety of activities for the entire family. As many small businesses continue to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, this year’s theme is “Resilience: Weathering the Storms in Business.”

What started as a two-day event has evolved to year-round activities, such as the TBE Corporate Luncheon. At this year’s TBE Corporate Luncheon, the Forward Times will be honored for its resilience and longevity in business, including weathering the storm through Hurricane Harvey.

Since being founded in 2002 by Jerome D. Love and Dr. Shannon Williams, the Texas Black Expo has served as a means to improve the quality of life within communities throughout the state by building strong businesses.

Through workshops, seminars, pitch competitions and other programs, the Texas Black Expo organization has helped more than 500,000 people. Providing a vehicle that helps small businesses get their start is an aspect of the Texas Black Expo of which Love is very proud.

“We are excited about this year’s Expo, especially as we celebrate this great milestone,” says Love. “We’re looking forward to welcoming actress Dominique Perry from the hit show ‘Insecure’ to our popular Diva Dialogue stage. We’ll also have a Kids Adventure Zone, a college fair, health and wellness offerings, including free check-ups and immunizations, an author showcase and so much more.”

After opening its doors back in 2007, Nightlight Pediatric Urgent Care became a vendor at Texas Black Expo as a way of getting the word out about its services. More than ten years later, the company has seven locations and employs 117 people in and around the greater Houston area. According to Forbes.com, the company had projected revenues of $8.5 million in 2017.

A recent example of how Texas Black Expo’s programs are making a positive difference in the greater Houston and surrounding communities has been the organization’s relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Seeing that there was a lack of outreach designed to help those in the entrepreneurial community recover from their business losses, Texas Black Expo sought to fill the gap by developing an innovative program that provided funding to small businesses impacted by the hurricane. After careful consideration, the Hurricane Harvey Small Business Relief Fund was created, with proceeds that were raised going to help 25 small business owners. Each selected recipient received a $1,000 emergency micro-grant to help them remain afloat. In total, the businesses that were assisted employ a total of 143 people and contribute approximately $6.1 million annually to the Greater Houston area economy.

Although Texas Black Expo has had a measurable impact on the Greater Houston economy over the past several years, Love says he is just getting started with plans to expand the organization’s reach throughout Texas via affiliate chapters.

“The ultimate vision is to have chapters in other Texas cities that are as committed to fostering the same initiatives as the ones we have here in Houston,” says Love. “This level of expansion will also allow Texas Black Expo to reach a trajectory of greater participation and economic development on a long-term basis.”

This year will also see the addition of a membership program, which will allow TBE members to take advantage of year-round events and initiatives focused on business training and community empowerment. One upcoming event that will take place in the fall of 2018 is #GirlBoss Marketplace. This event will showcase women entrepreneurs in an upscale atmosphere along with empowerment forums. A statewide elevator pitch and business plan competition, as well as a Youth Entrepreneurs Summer Camp are also on the horizon for 2019.

For more information about Texas Black Expo and to sign up to become a vendor, visit www.texasblackexpo.com.