After playing a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement, the city of Montgomery now has a new, distinguished reputation. It is currently ranked as the number two city in the US for Black businesses to flourish. Montgomery got its rank, after a list of 111 major metropolitan cities were examined by the website, NerdWallet. The city boast an astonishing 33% of its businesses being owned by Black business owners. Some of the criteria that was examined was the unemployment rate, cost of living, and the number of mentors available to offer advice on business building.
The study pointed out that the access to mentors was a key reason why Montgomery shot to the second spot on the list. Mentors are seen as such an important factor in business success because it gives others a blueprint as to how someone that looks like you succeeded. One of the people that benefited from having mentors is Tasha Scott. Ms. Scott was operating an at home business that specializes in court reporting and transcription services. After a few years of running her business, Tasha felt that she had hit a wall in growing her business. Feeling hopeless, she got in contact with another local Black business owner that could possibly give her guidance. This act of reaching out, allowed her to make contact with other Black business owners and even more mentors. When asked how the mentors made a difference, she said “they opened up a whole new world to me in terms of the growth of my business. There were some things I had done right, but there were some things I overlooked.” Tasha Scott now has the ability to expand her business by moving into a dedicated office space, which has room for her second business, as a motivational speaker and coach. Ms. Scott is proud to now be a mentor to others, as she was fortunate to have mentors that helped her along the way.
The study pointed to the fact that Montgomery has a relatively low number of chain stores and franchises, which allows for independent entrepreneur businesses to flourish. Business owners in the city stressed the importance of joining the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Center. The chamber’s vice president of business services, Ron Simmons, said “the more you become a part of a community, the more you have ownership. You want things to grow because you have some value. That’s something we’re beginning to see. Hopefully we can continue to move that along.” The other top 10 cities are: Columbus, Ga., Atlanta, Ga., Memphis, Tenn., Washington, D.C., Fayetteville, N.C., Durham, N.C., Jackson, Miss., Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore, Md.