BJ Joyce’s eyes light up when he mentions black-owned businesses.
A Denver native and East High School graduate, he is the CEO of Black Biz Colorado, a searchable online directory of Black businesses based in Colorado. Joyce, who now lives in Aurora, has long believed that economic empowerment is an essential ingredient in overcoming the many inequalities facing black communities.
In 2020, Joyce stumbled upon Black Biz Colorado’s Facebook page and immediately saw great potential. Interest in the page grew significantly as social justice protests swept across the country after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. Joyce realized that people were looking for ways to support black businesses.
By September 2021, Joyce became a Facebook page admin and helped design and launch the Black Biz Colorado website. To date, the site has 900 businesses registered throughout Colorado, and her Facebook page has nearly 19,000 members.
“It’s a chance for the masses across Colorado to find black-owned businesses.” From engineering to telephony, communications, food service, beauty supplies, and everything in between.
Marlon Wells, owner of Artistic Apparel, Graphics & Signs in Aurora, says listing his company in the directory has helped him attract new customers.
“Historically, it has been more difficult for us black business owners to get support to thrive and stay in business,” Wells said. did.”
Increasing exposure is one of the biggest challenges black businesses face, says Joyce. This is especially true in Colorado, which has a smaller black population than many other states. He encourages people to register his business and spends a lot of time promoting the site to potential users.
The goal, Joyce said, is to grow the directory into a “go-to resource” for people who want to support Black-owned businesses in Colorado. “Black companies have a great opportunity to serve all industries, have everyone on board, and have high-quality products and services,” he said.
Joyce said interest in supporting black-owned businesses has waned after nationwide social justice protests subsided, but he is working to regain momentum. “We want people to understand that help is needed on an ongoing basis,” he said. “For example, it’s not like you eat once a day and never eat again. You eat constantly to fuel your body. That’s what needs to happen in the black business community. We need a constant influx of people buying from them, their products and their services to sustain and survive.”