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Public directory helps people support Black-owned businesses this holiday season 

click to enlarge IMAGE PROVIDED BY BOBROCHESTER.COM
  • IMAGE PROVIDED BY BOBROCHESTER.COM
People looking to support minority owned businesses this holiday season can find a list of Black-owned businesses at BOBrochester.com. The website, which stands for Black-owned Business Rochester, is a public directory of local businesses in the Rochester area.

Lomax Campbell is the CEO of SUSU Management Group, which operates BOBrochester.com. He said his team noticed an increased interest around supporting Black-owned businesses as a response to the death of Trayvon Martin 2014. The website started in 2015 as a local source for people to find those types of businesses.

“We said this has to be bigger than just the racist response to police violence. It needs to be grounded in our culture,” said Campbell, who is also director of the city of Rochester's Office of Community Wealt B. “We looked to Victor H. Green’s Green Book as inspiration. And figured what if we brought that idea into the 21 century?”

Nearly six years later, the directory has listed over 700 businesses in dozens of categories.

This holiday season, the current pandemic and another resurgence of social unrest over equity and racial injustice has garnered interest in the movement to #buyblack.

Campbell said the directory is free and anyone can submit their favorite local Black-owned business for consideration. Once the business is verified it is added within a few days.

He said the BOBrochester.com directory has benefited local business owners, many of whom didn't know they were listed on the website.

“Maybe one of their customers listed them and they were excited to get the additional marketing awareness or brand awareness,” said Campbell.

SUSU Management Group is currently working on updating BOBrochester.com. Campbell said the company is working on adding a ratings feature and hopes to expand to other cities and include a Latino-owned businesses for 2021.

A recent study by the Institute for Economic Policy Research found that about 440,000 black owned businesses have closed since April because of the pandemic.

April Franklin is WXXI's Weekend Edition host and a reporter at WXXI News.

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