Ball to honor Black business owners, leaders | News

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The BlackBizBall is coming to Gloucester on May 12 at Beauport Hotel.

This event will honor Cape Ann and North Shore Black business owners and leaders as well as raise start-up money for a training initiative for high-risk youth in the Boston area, developed by BlackBiz Development Group Inc.

“We see this is as a fantastic opportunity for Gloucester. For those who want to do more business with people of color, the ball will provide an introduction. For those who want to increase race equity, the opportunity will be to welcome these visitors to the city,” said Nancy Goodman, co-chair of Gloucester’s Racial Justice Team, a group of community-minded residents who came together in the summer of 2020.

The event will honor 28 Black-owned businesses and leaders, including five locally: Gloucester’s Michelle Williams of Atlantic Vacation Homes; Michea McCaffrey, co-chair of the Gloucester Racial Justice Team; Susie Rich of Susie’s Stories in Rockport; Nicole McClain, founder of North Shore Juneteenth Association based in Lynn; and Wangari Fahari of Fahari Records in Beverly. 

“We are coming together to celebrate diversity, bring value to each other and to exchange resources,” said Roxbury’s Marie Firmin, the founder and CEO of BlackBiz Development Group.

Firmin chose to bring the BlackBizBall to America’s oldest seaport because the Gloucester Racial Justice Team partnered with BlackBiz Development on the event with its theme of” Race and Economic Justice for Black Businesses.”

“It made sense to reach out. I didn’t want to be confined to Boston and I wanted to reach out to businesses in other areas,” said Firmin. “Every business needs support and we have to help each other. My passion is entrepreneurship and I’m an educator. I want to help people understand the foundation and fundamentals of business. I want Black businesses to be successful and sustainable.”

Ray Johnston, managing director of the Beauport Hospitality Group, said the group is delighted that BlackBizBall chose Beauport as the site of its first in-person awards ceremony. 

Goodman and McCaffrey said they view the BlackBizBall as a fun and meaningful way to work toward fulfilling the Gloucester Racial Justice Team’s mission of creating a welcoming city where all people can thrive. 

The event will be held Thursday, May 12, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees will hear from key leaders, dine together, meet and greet, exchange contacts and enjoy entertainment.

“The goal is to highlight the crucial work we must do together to achieve racial and economic justice,” Goodman said.

Among her many efforts, Firmin created a digital directory — Ebony 100 (www.ebony100.com) — which lists 11,000 Black businesses. She also founded the non-profit Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy Academy to train underserved youth in entrepreneurial skills.

More information about and tickets to the BlackBizBall can be found at www.BlackBizBall.com.

Sponsors include the Institution for Savings, Cape Ann Savings Bank, Beauport Financial Services, Harborlight Community Partners, Atlantic Vacation Homes, Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, and the League of Community Health Centers.

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