February is Black History Month, which brings many ways to reflect on the contributions of African Americans to our country.
But neighborhood group Friends of Midtown hopes to see not just reflection, but action and tangible support for the Black community in Harrisburg.
Today, they launched their “One Midtown: Shop Black Owned” campaign to help drive awareness and patronage of Black-owned businesses in the month of February.
“Even though we think it’s important that Black-owned businesses are supported throughout the entire year, we wanted to shine a light on them during Black History Month,” said Katie Talada, co-chair of Friends of Midtown’s business committee.
Through the social media campaign, Friends of Midtown is encouraging people to shop at Black-owned businesses in Midtown, take a picture of the item they purchased, along with the receipt, and send it to the organization. After the campaign ends on Feb. 28, they will draw a winner, who will receive a $100 gift card.
On their Facebook page, they posted a link to the Central PA Black Business Directory, which, Talada said, provides a starting point for places to visit.
This campaign follows their first “One Midtown” initiative that took place in April and May to support small businesses during COVID. Talada said that was very successful, calculating that it spurred residents to spend over $1,000 at local businesses. They plan to continue “One Midtown” annually.
Then, over the summer, Friends of Midtown began having conversations on how to better advocate for justice and support Black residents and businesses in their neighborhood.
Vice President Autumn Anderson said that the organization’s board created a resolution that included increased beautification, safety, outreach and inclusion efforts that cater to Midtown’s Black community.
The “Shop Black Owned” campaign is one of the ways they are tackling those goals.
“3rd Street, specifically, has a rich history of Black-owned businesses,” Talada said. “This celebrates the roots there in Midtown.”
Anderson also hopes to get the word out about the new business membership program that Friends of Midtown is developing. It will include networking and promotional opportunities for local businesses.
“One Midtown: Shop Black Owned” will occur annually, each February. Talada said that they are looking to expand support to other underrepresented groups, as well.
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