Black Wall Street Chamber Of Commerce Seeks To Grow Local Black-Owned Businesses

Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 8:48 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

TULSA, Okla. -

A local chamber of commerce is trying to give Black-owned businesses a chance to grow and shine in Tulsa.

The Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce said this past weekend put Tulsa in the national spotlight, and they're using that attention to further their mission of helping Black-owned businesses succeed.

Venita Cooper opened Silhouette Sneakers & Art near Archer and Greenwood last year. It is a concept Venita Cooper said combines art, shoes and community.

"This store is the product of the community; it's never just one person," Cooper said.

Cooper said the support she's seen, especially recently, has made her proud.

"There is a growing community of young black entrepreneurs in Tulsa,” Cooper said.

That's exactly what Sherry Gamble Smith, the president of the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, wants to see continue. She said she helped start the chamber to give Black-owned businesses the resources and mentors they need to thrive.

The chamber has only been around for 2 years but has more than 100 members, including small businesses, schools and larger corporations such as One Gas and WPX Energy.

She said you don't have to be African American to be a part of the mission.

"We have other people who sponsor and support us as members,” Gamble Smith said.

Gamble Smith is also the Tulsa Juneteenth President.

She said people from around the country have been applying to join the chamber after they heard about Tulsa's history this past weekend.

"We've gotten a flood of applications coming through from people elsewhere saying we like your message," Gamble Smith said.

She hopes to see the growth continue to bring 100 more Black-owned businesses to Tulsa ahead of the Race Massacre's centennial anniversary next year.

Gamble Smith said the chamber has also helped businesses struggling throughout the pandemic and wants to continue offering support and financial assistance.