In 1924, blacks in Shreveport organized the Shreveport Negro Business League, which was a subsidiary of the National Negro Business League founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900. The Shreveport League focused primarily on economic development in black communities throughout the city and emphasized the importance of supporting and patronizing black businesses to create jobs for themselves, especially for their young people.
The Negro League, which was neighborhood based, promoted the expansion of black businesses through its annual “Negro Trade Week” event, where every black was asked to purchase from black businesses, black families were encouraged to dine at black establishments and buy life and burial insurance from black agencies or representatives. The annual event included an essay writing contest at local schools, addressing the issue of “Why We Should Patronize Negro Businesses”.
In 1941, the Negro League welcomed the Negro Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in late 1940, into the economic and civic field of activities in the black community and commended those responsible for establishing this new institution in the city of Shreveport. Both the League and Chamber felt that the estimated 30,000 plus blacks in the city could support their separate organizations. Since the Negro League was primarily neighborhood based and the Chamber would not be confined to certain parts of town, the Chamber would have the largest number of Negro professionals, businesses and lay persons throughout the city. The Negro Chamber would focus on the general welfare of the Negro in Shreveport and the resolution of problems common to blacks.
In 1996, the Negro Chamber established the “Tuesday Morning Breakfast”, a weekly gatherings of business owners and socially responsible stakeholders at Pete Harris Cafe to discuss issues facing the black community and explore steps the chamber needed to take to be more effective in serving the needs of its members. The Chamber’s weekly radio show was used to feature prominent persons in the fields of economic and community development. Throughout this period, the Jerry “Tim” Brooks Golf Tournament and the Annual Awards Banquet had become its primary fundraisers. In 1999, the name of Negro Chamber was changed to the Shreveport- Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce (SBAACC).
Today SBAACC continues to strive to serve as the Premier Voice in Northwest Louisiana for the growth of African American Businesses and the Community at-large through Advocacy, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Empowerment. Our Vision is to be the Ultimate Resource for African American Businesses. The organization is lead by a 13 member board of directors. Each board member brings a unique perspective from their various industries and professions that when combined create a positive and progressive minded body with the primary focus of building capacity and creating an environment conducive for economic empowerment.
Some of the events and programs that SBAACC presents on an annual basis for the members include:
- Red Apple Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Program – SBAACC presents scholarships to students from inner city schools as well as recognize teachers who go above and beyond to make a difference and positively impact the lives of these students.
- Annual Golf Tournament – The purpose of the golf tournament is to raise funds and awareness of the First Tee program. A program geared at providing life skills education and exposing young people to core values.
- Small Business Awards Luncheon – The purpose of the luncheon is to celebrate and recognize the positive growth and impact made by small, woman owned, minority owned businesses in the community.
- Minority Business Expo – A showcase of the goods and services of over 80 businesses.
- Monthly Mixers hosted by chamber corporate and business members – The monthly mixers create an atmosphere for the communication, relationship building, and promotion of business.
- Monthly Power Luncheons – SBAACC hosts a monthly Power Luncheon at The Wyndham Hotel the 2nd Tuesday of each month. We invite corporations, businesses and community leaders to come out and present information on their companies, their successes and the best way to do business with them. This provides member businesses and others first-hand contact with corporate leaders and owners. We also invite community leaders to present information on planned projects that will change the face of this area while creating business opportunities. This program is also a great networking opportunity. Again, it’s an opportunity to create relationships and promote our businesses.
- Workshop Series – These workshops are targeted at providing training and resources to minority businesses. The topics of these workshops include: Financial Management, Marketing and Promotion, Tax Management, Creating a Bondable Business, and Doing Business with the Gaming Industry.
- Cash Mob – An initiative where SBAACC in partnership with State of Black Shreveport, Minority Supplier Institute, and NAACP promotes and create exposure for minority businesses by encouraging citizens to support businesses within their own community.