MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Blacktech Week has named Memphis as the best city for black-owned businesses, beating out 2016’s winner Atlanta.
Lunch hour is ramping up at The Office at Uptown. It’s a combined food and office space where you can make your copies and grab a sandwich at the same time.
“I love that it’s a hidden gem of this neighborhood,” said Natalie Mitchell.
Valerie Peavy owns the Office at Uptown. Peavy had a background in IT management and combined that with her husband’s passion for food to open the business four and a half years ago.
She knows she’s up against the odds as a black female, but says her business-owning experience has been good.
“I find Memphis to be really receptive to small business,” she said. “We’re a nurturing environment. One thing I try to do is tell people my story.”
However, Peavy said she does think there’s room for improvement when it comes to exposure to all Memphians. Her customer Natalie Mitchell agreed.
“They probably don’t receive the light they should get. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” Mitchell said.
The Black Business Association of Memphis agreed the city still has work to do.
“While we’re excited about it, we don’t want to celebrate too fast,” President and CEO Ricky Tucker said.
According to Tucker, for every $100 spent by Memphis consumers, only 83 cents go to black businesses.
In addition, city Council Member Patrice Robinson said she’d like to see black business owners get a larger piece of the pie relative to spending across the city.
“We have a lot of work to do. We are looked at as a minority in our country but in Memphis we’re a majority. Just getting people’s minds wrapped around the true picture of what it should look like, we have a lot of work to do to change mindsets,” she said. “We’re just trying to get our portion of what should be our community’s wealth. The reality of our city is not like other cities.”