AndrÃ© Wilson knows the obstacles black people can face when trying to start or grow their own business.
And as the chair of a new neighborhood council, he’s ready to start breaking them down – starting with developing a business incubator that will support black entrepreneurs and artists.
On Friday, the NuLu Business Association announced that Wilson will lead its NuLu Diversity Empowerment Council, an entity created in response to national conversations about systemic racism and racial injustice.
He will also be a member of the association’s board of directors.
“Until we look at empowering the black community economically, we will march and protest for another 100 years,” said Wilson, master stylist and president of Style Icon, an image consulting and design firm. fashion. “… I am ready to work.”
The NuLu association and businesses in the region were recently criticized during a large-scale protest, in which protesters accused the owners of benefiting from gentrification and demanded that they take specific steps to improve diversity, including employing more black people and buying more inventory from black retailers.
Background:âMafia tacticsâ or âlegitimateâ demands? NuLu companies respond to protesters
And while some business owners took offense at the requests, Wilson said he was ready to meet with protesters and anyone else who wanted to discuss diversity in the small shopping district.
âDid he need a spotlight on black affairs? Yes,â Wilson said. âSome of the requests, I didn’t agree with the consequences of what happens if you don’t follow through)â¦ But we’re both going to the same place, and it’s all about empowering black businesses. . “
Wilkerson said the board, which consists of about 20 members, has already identified a space where it can start an “inclusiveness” incubator, and it has received $ 20,000 in donations to begin providing training on the diversity and entrepreneurship courses.
The council plans to continue fundraising so it can provide start-up costs for black entrepreneurs and artists. And several members have volunteered to help new business owners with accounting, business plans or other needs, Wilson said.
According to a press release, the incubator will also help member companies of the association to recruit employees from minorities for vacant positions.
âA lot of times when we talk about inclusion we talk about diversity, there are so many round tables and conversations,â Wilson said. â… We need to turn them into concrete action. This is what we are focusing on. “
Wilson said he believes the board is a sign of progress not just for NuLu, but for Louisville as a whole. And he appreciates the interest of business owners in working to solve long-standing problems.
“What if everyone did that?” Wilson said. “The fight wouldn’t be that hard.”
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