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The Significance of Black-Owned Small Businesses in Michigan 

February 12, 2024

February is Black History Month. In commemoration, here is a look at the timeline of Black business owners in the United States. (Source:

  • Philadelphia, 1810. The first Black insurance company, African Insurance Company, is founded.
  • New York, 1821. Thomas Jennings becomes the first African American to be granted a patent for his invention of the “dry-scouring” process, a predecessor to today’s dry-cleaning methods.
  • New York, 1827. The first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, is founded.
  • Boston, 1900. The National Negro Business League is established by Booker T. Washington, ushering in what historian Juliet E.K. Walker called “the Golden Age of Black business” until 1930.
  • Oklahoma, 1906. O.W. Gurley establishes the town of Greenwood and founds the first business in what would later come to be known as “Black Wall Street”.
  • Nationwide, 1932. The Great Depression caused the African American unemployment rate to climb to approximately 50%.
  • New York, 1945. Rose Meta Morgan opens a salon renowned for celebrating Black women and Black standards of beauty.
  • Chicago, 1971. Joan and George Johnson’s cofounded hair care products company, Johnson Products Co., becomes the first Black-owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange.
  • Nationwide, 2002-2007. The number of black-owned businesses increases by 60.5 percent – more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent – reaching 1.9 million.
  • Nationwide, 2002-2011. Black businesses experience the largest growth in number of businesses seen this century.
  • Nationwide, 2010. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act assist Black-owned businesses in procuring federal contracts.
  • Nationwide, 2022. There are 161,031 Black-owned employer businesses in the U.S. according to

Recent United States Census estimates there are over 161,000 Black or African American-owned employer businesses, accounting for $183.3 billion in annual receipts, 1.4 million employees, and about $53.6 billion in annual payroll. About 45,015 (28%) of these businesses were in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector.

Michigan is home to a diverse array of over 54,000 Black-owned small businesses, which contribute significantly to the state’s economic landscape. The majority of Black-owned small businesses in Michigan are sole proprietorships, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit and individual efforts within the community.

Resources for Black Business Owners

Collaborative networks and business associations, including SBAM’s Strategic Partner, the Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance, play a crucial role in fostering growth and mentorship for Black entrepreneurs. Initiatives like the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council work to connect Black-owned businesses with corporate and government procurement opportunities, fostering economic inclusion. SCORE has specific resources for Black entrepreneurs, including mentorship opportunities.

Supporting Black-Owned Small Businesses

This Black History Month, let us recognize and celebrate the profound impact of black-owned small businesses in Michigan. By understanding their economic, cultural, and social contributions, we can actively support and promote the growth of these enterprises. Through our collective efforts, we can create a more inclusive and prosperous Michigan for generations to come. 

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