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The Iowa City Area Development Group and the University of Iowa have partnered to create a website to highlight Black-owned businesses in the Corridor.
The website, Grow Black-Owned, has an interactive directory of Black-owned businesses with descriptions of each business, contact information and website links.
It includes businesses from a variety of industries, ranging from a law office to bakeries and restaurants. Not-for-profit organizations in the directory also have donation links on the site.
“The cultural and ethnic diversity in Johnson County enriches our community, builds economic vitality and uplifts our community as a whole,” ICAD President Kate Moreland said in a news release.
“We look forward to doing our part to help uplift and support these entrepreneurs and organizations both now and in the future.”
A “Stories” tab on the website has interviews with business owners about their experiences starting and continuing to operate their businesses.
Photos of the business owner stand alongside text and audio of them talking about various life experiences.
Tracy Jon Sargeant, the executive director of the Multicultural Development Center of Iowa, reflected on the impact of entering a STEM career — science, technology, engineering and math — as a Black man, for example.
“I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me, and I finally decided it was up to me to do something about that,” Sargeant said on the website.
“I founded MDC Iowa, and we started providing pre-STEM classes.”
The website is accessible at qrco.de/IowaCityBlackBusiness.
Students and faculty from the UI’s School of Planning and Public Affairs and Department of Theatrical Arts worked on developing the website.
“We explored how artists, public planners and community partners can work together on strategies to advance economic inclusion and support Black entrepreneurs in the Iowa City area,” Loyce Arthur, a theater arts professor at the UI, said in the release.
“Gathering stories from local entrepreneurs and community advocates offered individual personal perspectives and insights necessary for us to shape our community-based project.”
The university plans to expand the website in future semesters. Arthur said the class that focuses on the project will be taught again in the spring semester of the 2021-22 academic year.
“This is a long-term project,” Arthur said.
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