BUFFALO- Today, Mayor Byron W. Brown announced the official start of Buffalo Black Business month, a new shopping initiative between the City of Buffalo, M&T Bank and Buy Black Buffalo, to support Black-owned businesses throughout the month of August. From now through the end of the month, Mayor Brown is calling on City residents and visitors to check out some of the many great Black-owned businesses in neighborhoods citywide, including those on Jefferson Avenue, where the heartache and healing continues after the mass shooting on May 14th that claimed the lives of ten innocent people and wounded three others. As part of Buffalo Black Business Month, The Exchange at Beverly Gray will host a number of coordinated business-focused events to assist underrepresented and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs.
“Supporting Buffalo’s small businesses has been a priority of mine since day one, and that includes our many Black-owned businesses that continue to enrich our economy and provide for our residents,” said Mayor Brown. “During Buffalo Black Business month in August, we have the opportunity to further strengthen, support and empower Black business owners during these challenging times, and pave pathways for future Black entrepreneurs. As my administration continues to spearhead initiatives to help Black-owned businesses thrive, I am asking everyone to discover the hundreds of Black-owned businesses in our city that are driving the investment dollars that are needed, now more than ever, and giving everyone a chance to succeed.”
Buffalo Black Business Month is a shopping program that builds off of National Black Business Month. In Buffalo, residents are encouraged to shop at Black-owned businesses, where they will be rewarded in August with a chance to win prizes donated by the Buffalo Bills. Participation is easy. Visit a participating business that is registered with Buy Black Buffalo to receive a shopping stamp card. Spend a total of $250 at participating stores throughout the month of August and shoppers will become eligible to enter special raffles to win prizes. Additional information about Buffalo Black Business Month is available at buyblackbuffalo.com.
“Across Buffalo and Western New York, Black entrepreneurs have launched businesses that are meeting local needs, strengthening communities, and providing unique products, services and experiences. There is no better time than right now for our entire region to learn more about Black-owned businesses and make the choice to Buy Black Buffalo,” said Shannon Johnson, a local banker with M&T Bank. “At M&T, we’re driven by our purpose to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s why we’re encouraging the community to join us in supporting the Buffalo Black Business Month — together, let’s keep working to empower Black-owned businesses and uplift our community.”
In addition to supporting the Buy Black Buffalo initiative, M&T Bank has created and invested in several programs that serve the region’s diverse communities. M&T previously launched a Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab that offered guidance and education to businesses that serve East Buffalo. The bank also recently invested about $2 million into its East Buffalo branch network and created technology training programs through its Tech Academy to build a more diverse and inclusive tech workforce. The bank’s wide-ranging support extends to several community-building nonprofits and initiatives, such as East Side Avenues, The Exchange at Beverly Gray, the Northland Workforce Training Center, Jericho Road Community Health Center, WEDI and many others. The bank also provided half a million dollars, plus time and resources, to help support the shooting victims, their families and long-term rebuilding initiatives in the community.
To participate in Buffalo Black Business Month, shoppers can visit a participating store and request one Buffalo Black Business Month stamp card, which they will use throughout the month. The merchant will place a sticker on their stamp card whenever a shopper spends a minimum of $25 at any participating business. Purchases made on Jefferson Ave will earn two stickers. Shoppers can accumulate stickers through August 27. Once a shopper has acquired a minimum of $250 in accrued stickers, they qualify to enter a raffle for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Buffalo Bills home opener or Bills vs. Steelers game; valued at over $900, or a Bills DE Greg Rousseau signed jersey and other prizes. The names of the raffle winners will be drawn and announced on August 28th at the Beau Fleuve Music and Arts Celebration at the Buffalo Central Terminal, located at 495 Paderewski Drive.
To enter the raffle, shoppers must drop off their qualifying stamp card before the drawing at one of the following locations:
“Buy Black Buffalo aims to support Black-owned businesses through resources and increased exposure to all communities in Buffalo,” said Chief Diversity Officer for The City of Buffalo, Chantele Thompson. “Buffalo Black Business Month will not only help grow a business’s customer base but, through our partnership with The Exchange at Beverly Gray, Black business owners have an opportunity to learn and benefit from business workshops and services offered at The Exchange.”
To maximize opportunities for Black business growth, The Exchange at Beverly Gray will host a series of in- person events on Wednesdays beginning on August 10th. Attendees will benefit from information-packed discussions with seasoned entrepreneurs and marketing professionals. The programs will equip business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with information about starting a business, business growth, branding, and professional networking. To conclude Buffalo Black Business Month, The Exchange will host its first Black Business Month celebration with an art walk, live DJ, food trucks, networking, and tours of the new IGNITE Labs on August 31st. A complete itinerary for Black Business Month at The Exchange is available online at theexchangeatbeverlygray.org.
“The Exchange at Beverly Gray is excited to partner with Mayor Brown and the City of Buffalo, M&T Bank, and Buy Black Buffalo for Buffalo Black Business Month”, said Derrick Parson, Executive Director of The Exchange at Beverly Gray. “These partnerships help increase the visibility of local entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the city. The Exchange at Beverly Gray will host a series of events and workshops for Buffalo Black Business Month. From restaurants to coffee shops, clothing boutiques to bookstores, we anticipate this month’s programs will benefit all black business owners who attend.”
For more information about Buffalo Black Business Month, go to buyblackbuffalo.com.
Buy Black Buffalo is a City of Buffalo initiative that Mayor Byron W. Brown started in November 2020 to encourage Buffalo residents and visitors to explore Black-owned businesses as they shop local, especially those disproportionately affected by economic challenges due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic and other challenges. The organization’s formation was also in response to a lack of support and resources for black- owned businesses, which has often pushed them into becoming an afterthought or labeled illegitimate. Mayor Brown and Buy Black Buffalo recognize that Black-owned businesses are vital to the success and growth of our communities. Therefore, it aims to assist Black-owned businesses through exposure, resources, and productivity.