Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.
Below is an interview with Toya Powell, Vice President of Operations for the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC). A former real estate economist at Property & Portfolio Research, Inc. (PPR), Toya previously served as a Business Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and a realtor in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
Q1: Tell us about US Black Chambers, Inc. What is your mission and what are your key priorities?
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) is led by our President & CEO, Ron Busby Sr., and supports 114 affiliated member Chambers in 25 states and 240,000 businesses through Five Pillars of Service: Advocacy, Access to Capital, Contracting, Entrepreneur Training, and Chamber Development. Our mission is to provide committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises.
Q2: In what ways are you working to expand opportunity in hard-hit communities across the US?
USBC is working to expand opportunity in hard-hit communities across the U.S. through our Solutions Series where we focus on connecting our chambers and businesses to the public and private sector resources they need to be successful through Access to Capital, Contracting, and Entrepreneur Development. Since we launched the Solutions Series in 2012, we have been to communities from coast-to-coast in Phoenix, AZ; Charlotte, NC; Miami, FL; Austin, TX; Columbus, OH; Las Vegas, NV; Atlanta, GA, Kansas, City, KS with more cities ahead. In addition, this year we will host our 4th annual signature conference - the USBC School of Chamber and Business Management - on Tuesday, July 8th through Friday, July 11th at the brand new Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. This conference convenes our chamber leaders from across the country and our Top 100 business owners, helping them to refine their leadership skills and gain access to viable opportunities in the public and private sectors.
Q3: How are you working to help companies looking to export?
We are working to help companies seeking to export by partnering with organizations such as the Export-Import Bank, Minority Business Development Agency, Department of Commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration as well as our newest Chamber Member, the Cameroonian American Chamber of Commerce and some of the embassies. In addition, last year, Mr. Busby traveled to Morocco, Africa to identify procurement and teaming opportunities. These are just a few of many examples.
Q4: How are you partnering with other organizations to increase your impact?
We are currently partnering with over 50 other organizations across cultures and sectors, domestically and internationally, to increase our reach and impact to promote wealth and job creation. We are open to collaborating with any organization whose values and interests are authentically aligned with our Five Pillars of Service: Advocacy, Access to Capital, Contracting, Entrepreneur Training, and Chamber Development.
Q5: If people want to learn more about the US Black Chambers, Inc., what should they do?
If people want to learn more about the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), they should visit www.usblackchambers.org, call 202.463.USBC (8722), email info[at]usblackchambers[dot]org, Like us on Facebook.com/usblackchambers and follow us on Twitter @usblackchambers. We are here to serve!