Black Chamber of Commerce To Open in Northern Virginia

A new chamber of commerce is officially opening in Northern Virginia next week to help African Americans and those looking to do business with minorities network and grow.

The founders of the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce created the chamber because they were frustrated by a lack of good minority-focused networking and business events in the region.

The co-founders of the new Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce aim to help minority firms network and grow. (Photo credit Felisha Gaskins)

"Northern Virginia has always been an oddity for African Americans," to reach out and do business, said chamber chairman Randy Philip. "If I want to find a good event I go to [the District] or Prince George's County... I believe there are tons of business opportunities waiting to be had from people like those who used to work at AOL or other dot-coms in the area and have started their own ventures."

Philip, who is also an independent insurance broker, stressed that the chamber accepts members of any ethnicity, but is primarily meant to be "a starting place for African Americans."

Gaea Honeycutt, vice chair of the group and a small business owner, said the chamber plans to focus on acquainting African Americans and others in the area with available business opportunities with the federal government.

Philip said there are many other economic development groups in the area "doing good things" and the group wants to be seen as an additional resource. "It's not overkill to have more than one person willing to help you. We hope to work in partnership with some of these other groups," Philip said.

Honeycutt added that as the chamber grows, she hopes it will be a forum for small firms to connect with mentors. "There are a lot of opportunities as a small business owner and some minority business owners may find that in certain fields there are not a lot of people who look like them -- maybe they can find a mentor from a larger firm to help them discuss issues facing a minority business owner."

By Sharon McLoone |  September 25, 2008; 9:03 AM ET Networking
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