The Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner (left) and Mark Yates have linked to grow African American businesses. (Screen capture images)

Plans are underway to help both thriving and struggling black businesses increase sustainability through a new, collective effort called 901.Black.

901.Black is the brainchild of Mark Yates, chief executive officer, Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA), and partners.

The Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, senior pastor of Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church (MMBC), Shelby County Commissioners Van Turner Jr. and Mickell Lowery, and Douglass Scarboro, senior vice president and regional executive for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – Memphis Branch are collaborators in the effort.

The goal is to plan and launch a well-designed movement to support black businesses in Memphis in the aftermath of coronavirus (COVID-19) – the pandemic which has negatively impacted a swath of minority entrepreneurs locally and nationwide.

“We’ve got to be deliberate in terms of growth. We’ve got to determine how to sustain business and how we can enhance the buying experience to make it worthwhile,” said Yates.

On Wednesday, Yates discussed the effort and ways to increase economic growth in the black community with Turner during Yate’s virtual show – “The Pivot Plan.”

Turner said his 99-year-old, two-campus church is eager to engage with the larger business community in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the nation’s uproar about black economics following the murder of George Floyd.

“God help me to leverage the influence of this church for the benefit of our community,” said Turner who is committed to the idea.

The mega church leader says pushing out content through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and live streaming through digital tools such as Zoom and GoToMeeting have sustained MMBC operations during COVID-19.

Turner mentioned challenges the church faced as a result of physical distancing and how it overcame them through technology, consultative advice and innovation.

On Sept. 9-10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, BBA Memphis will host a virtual conference bringing minority business developers and black entrepreneurs together to plan 901.Black.

Conference sessions will focus on:

  • defining black business opportunities and innovative solutions,
  • taking advantage of digital tools,
  • understanding the power of black spending,
  • identifying benefits of a collective movement,
  • accessing capital resources and,
  • minimizing risks and threats in navigating the “new normal.”

Conference invitees include: MMBC, NARAB (National Association of Real Estate Brokers), Memphis NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Memphis Minority Business Continuum, City of Memphis Office of Diversity & Compliance, Memphis Urban League, local chapters of the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants, 800 Initiative participants and a host of additional black business stakeholders.

Registration is required.

Email Mark Yates at [email protected] for a registration link.