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Detroit’s Black McDonald’s Owners Facing A Whopper of a Dilemma 

MICHIGAN CHRONICLE — Last November a small contingent of Detroit’s Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA) members gathered at a McDonald’s restaurant on West 8 Mile to pick up and hand out turkeys to families in the area. It’s not the kind of gesture most people would expect from a McDonald’s franchise owner but was entirely consistent with the sense of community and commitment from this small group of African American entrepreneurs.

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By Trevor W. Coleman

Last November a small contingent of Detroit’s Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA) members gathered at a McDonald’s restaurant on West 8 Mile to pick up and hand out turkeys to families in the area.

It’s not the kind of gesture most people would expect from a McDonald’s franchise owner but was entirely consistent with the sense of community and commitment from this small group of African American entrepreneurs.

It was a display of the commitment the Detroit BMOA has shown the community for the nearly 50 years of its existence as a group of local businesses committed to excellent customer service and community service.

But now, some members are concerned that the organization has fallen on hard times as its member ship has consistently shrunk over the past decade.

Bill Pickard, an original founding member of the Detroit BMOA said the once nearly 25 strong Detroit group is now down to eight or perhaps nine members.

“We probably had 20 owners or more at one time and now we’re down to less than 10,” he said. That’s a 50 percent drop off man. Of the remaining 8 or nine franchises in Detroit, half are in trouble. What happened?”

So concerned with the viability of the Detroit franchises and organization, the national BMOA Board of Directors is holding a regional meeting this week at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel in Detroit to assess the situation.

Pickard, who owns a McDonald’s at Michigan Ave. and Livernois, said they don’t hold those kinds of meetings locally unless there are real concerns. And he has his suspicions regarding the problems.

“Basically, we have many people who are not eligible for growth. And they’ve had to make major reinvestments in the last couple of years. And if you are already highly leveraged and you must make more investments it’s just a difficult amount of pressure on an organization,” he said.

Bernard Price, a retired franchise owner and one of the founding members of the BMOA agreed. He said although he sold his McDonald’s in 1994, many of the same pressure exist today such as a constant demand by corporate to make renovations and other major capital improvements with scarce resources.

“Over time many black operators didn’t make it,” he said. “They left because of a lack of business acuity or their own problems, and sometimes not.”

“Sometimes it was the company’s fault because when they did give us a store, they gave us one of the poorest stores. So, we started off as disadvantaged no doubt,” Price said.

That is why they formed BOMA to leverage whatever influence they had together to get better terms with the corporation, he noted.

On its website, the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association (NBMOA) calls itself the largest organization of established African American entrepreneurs in the world. It is a 47-year old Organization dedicated to ensuring that African American McDonald’s Owners are fully engaged in all the benefits associated with owning McDonald’s restaurants.

The NBMOA goal is the complete integration of NBMOA members, African American Employees, and Vendors into the McDonald’s system. The NBMOA also works diligently to make sure that McDonald’s fully engage the African American community in a respectful and positive manner.

Price, the NBMOA and Detroit organization co-founder said he hopes for the best.

This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle

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100 Diverse-Owned Oakland Businesses Could Receive a $10,000 Grant from Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

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Comcast RISE/Courtesy of Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

To be eligible for the grant, businesses must:

• Have established business operations for 3 or more years

• Have one to 25 employees

• Be based within Oakland, California city limits

The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE – which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment – a multiyear, multi-faceted initiative launched in 2020 to provide people of color-owned small businesses the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. If a business is not eligible for the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, applications are also open for marketing and technology services. In fact, 228 businesses in California have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients.

“Like many others, my small business was impacted by the pandemic. Thanks to the Comcast RISE program, I can reach new audiences,” said Judi Townsend, owner of Mannequin Madness and Oakland resident. She has benefited from the program twice, once with the production and placement of a TV commercial and then with a technology makeover.

“The application process was much more straight forward than other grants. I encourage my fellow eligible business owners to apply for the grant and the other benefits.” To help drive outreach and awareness about Comcast RISE and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded a $50,000 grant to the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“The economic effects of the global pandemic have been felt worldwide, including significant impacts here in Oakland,” said Barbara Leslie, President & CEO, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. We know that our small, local, woman-owned and Black, Indigenous and People Of Color businesses – who are responsible for creating the beautiful tapestry we call home – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. We applaud Comcast’s vision, through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, to ensure that small businesses that exist today can be a part of Oakland’s economic and social fabric both tomorrow and for many years to come.”

Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched last year. In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.

Grant recipients will also receive a complimentary 12-month membership to the coaching program from Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to help them build skills, gain more customers and become financially stable. Eligible businesses can apply online at www.ComcastRISE.com from October 1 through October 14, 2021 for one of the 100 $10,000 grants. More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or the marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

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Mayor Breed, Supervisor Mar Launch Grant to Support Storefronts Impacted by Vandalism

Up to $2,000 in financial relief available to repair storefront vandalism at neighborhood businesses

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SF Storefront Vandalism Grant Program Banner/Photo Courtesy of City of San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Mayor London N. Breed and Supervisor Gordon Mar announced Wednesday the launch of the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant program, which provides up to $2,000 in financial relief to restore and repair damages from vandalism at neighborhood storefronts. The program launches during a time when many small businesses are recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Opening and operating a successful small business in San Francisco was becoming increasingly difficult, and the pandemic has made it that much harder,” said Breed. “It has never been more critical for us to provide support to our small businesses in every way that we can, which not only means making it easier to open and operate a small business, but also providing relief when they face challenges. With the launch of the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant, we are letting our small business community know that we have their back and will fight to ensure that they can continue operating for years to come.”

The Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant provides financial relief to restore small businesses impacted by deliberate actions that result in the destruction or damages of storefronts. This program will offer either $1,000 or $2,000, depending on the total cost incurred to repair physical damages. The $1 million program is designed to serve more than 500 small businesses with gross revenue of less than $8 million that can provide proof of damages from vandalism incurred since July 1, 2020.

The fund will directly support small businesses with financial relief in the aftermath of a crime to restore the harm done. The fund will also allow small businesses to make improvements that enhance security and prevent crime. This includes replacement locks, a new security gate, fixing an alarm system, adding new lighting, replacing windows, etchings on windows, and many others. Improvements are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, based on fund availability.

The Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant is one tool in preventing crime and improving safety in neighborhood commercial corridors. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) also funds programs to help small businesses and neighborhood organizations improve safety through ambassadors and activations to increase foot traffic and community patrols. The fund is not meant to replace the loss of stolen goods and does not include damage to shared spaces.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in burglaries and vandalism in every neighborhood targeting small businesses already struggling with unprecedented economic challenges. As we work to prevent these crimes and strengthen safety on our commercial corridors, we must also respond immediately to provide relief to mom-and-pop businesses with direct and tangible support as they recover from these incidents,” said Mar. 

“Following requests from businesses in the Sunset, I worked with Mayor Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to create the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant and secured an initial $1 million funding allocation,” said Mar. “The fund will provide financial relief to small businesses in the aftermath of a crime to restore the harm done, including direct costs of property damage or getting a replacement lock or new security measures.”

To apply, eligible businesses are asked to provide receipts, photos of damages and furnish a report from the San Francisco Police Department or from 311 in the case of graffiti. Applications can be found by visiting oewd.org/VandalismRelief.

“On February 26 at 4:00 a.m., a burglar managed to break into my small business without activating the alarm. An hour later an opportunistic looter came into my store and stole additional merchandise. Small businesses are already hurting hard from the pandemic and these crimes are a gut punch to small businesses,” said Michael Hsu, owner of Footprint on Taraval.  

“Since hearing about the Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant, I’ve put in my application to get up to $2,000 to help provide some relief to my business. We need more programs like this to support small businesses in our neighborhood that are struggling from being victims of burglary and vandalism. I’m thankful for our city leaders for initiating this program. Together with the community and leaders, we will get through these tough times.”

“Since the pandemic, I have heard so many stories from small businesses that have been burglarized or vandalized. As a small business owner, myself, I feel and understand their pain and loss,” said Albert Chow, president of People of the Parkside Sunset, a Taraval merchants and residents association. “The Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant is a safety net that is critical to ensuring that our small business owners are able to recover.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including making available more than $52.8 million in grants and loans to support more than 3,000 small businesses, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. This includes legislation introduced and signed by Mayor Breed to waive $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants.

“As we reopen and rebuild, many of our small businesses continue to struggle to make ends meet. These challenges can feel almost insurmountable when small businesses also become victims of vandalism” said Kate Sofis, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  “San Francisco’s Storefront Vandalism Relief Grant will help alleviate the financial hardship caused by deliberate acts of damage to property. It is one of many tools the City has to support our business community and the vibrancy of our neighborhoods as we work together towards economic recovery.”

“The San Francisco Post’s coverage of local news in San Francisco County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

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A Store for ‘The People’ in East Oakland

The People’s Store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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The People's Storefront, Photo courtesy of realtor.com

The People’s Store, located in East Oakland, is a boutique that sells small batch African clothing, jewelry, crystals, and sage along with natural personal care products.

Customers rave about the natural shea butter, black soap and oils that are found in the store. The owner sells products wholesale and retail.

Located at 2366 High St, Oakland, CA 94601, they can be reached at  (510) 698-4371. The owner supports the local community, supporting small, local entrepreneurs by stocking the shelves of The People’s Store with their products. Check out their IG for giveaways, events and discounts.

The People’s Store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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