Despite many challenges on the political front—not to mention the ongoing quests for justice and equality—2017 saw many business and entrepreneurial achievements made by African Americans. From the release of Black Enterprise’s iconic BE 100s list of the nation’s largest and most successful black businesses to the untimely loss of a brilliant and beloved black businessman, here are the most significant African American-related business news stories we covered in 2017:
MEET THE WOMEN WITH 13 MCDONALD’S FRANCHISES…AND COUNTING
All sorts of images come to mind when you hear the words “Compton, California”— “legacy” not being one of them. But, for Patricia Williams, Compton and the McDonald’s franchise have enabled her to build an empire of 13 locations across Los Angeles, employing over 700 people in the community. Not to mention, it’s also allowed Williams to work alongside her daughters, Nicole Enearu and Kerri Harper-Howie, who are already in position to carry on her legacy. Read their full story.
(Image: McDonald’s Advertorial-Williams Family)
BLACK-OWNED INVESTMENT COMPANY’S $700 MILLION PROJECT WILL REDEVELOP SOUTH CENTRAL, L.A.
A master plan for Capri Investment Group’s $700 million mixed-use project includes adding 961 condos and apartments, a new 400-room hotel, a 10-story office building, retail stores, and restaurants. Additionally, plans call for more than tripling the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s size to over 3 million square feet. Read the full story.
RAY J CLOSES $31 MILLION DEAL TO LAUNCH RAYCON
According to a recent press release, the $31 million deal, paid in the form of equity and cash, was finalized between the R&B artist/television personality and Cowboy Wholesale, a leading distributor of consumer electronics based in New York City. Black Enterprise’s Tech Editor, Silicon Valley, Sequoia Blodgett offers the full details.
Ray J and Ray Lee of Cowboy Wholesale shake hands after signing the paperwork cementing their $31 million Raycon distribution deal. (Image: Raycon)
STEVE BANNON DELIVERS KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT BLACK ENTREPRENEURS’ CONFERENCE
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon delivered remarks before an audience of African American entrepreneurs, where he discussed President Donald Trump’s economic agenda and blamed illegal immigration for the economic stagnation of other minority groups. “Illegal immigration and trade deals are two sides of the same coin. It suppresses the wages of workers,” he said at the Minority Entrepreneurs Conference. Black Enterprise’s Digital Editor, Selena Hill, interviews the founder of the SuperPAC, Black Americans for a Better Future, that invited Bannon.
(Image: Flickr/Michael Vadon)
DEBRA LEE STEPS DOWN AS PRESIDENT OF BET
Starting Jan. 1, Debra L. Lee will no longer oversee daily operations at Black Entertainment Television (BET). The network announced Thursday that she is stepping down as president and that Scott M. Mills has been tapped to take her place. Lee, however, will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of the network, focusing on cultivating the company’s relationships with external stakeholders and communities. Here is the full scoop.
OUR 2017 LIST OF THE NATION’S LARGEST BLACK BUSINESSES OFFER STRATEGIES TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
African American business historian and Black Enterprise’s chief content officer Derek T. Dingle draws up an amazing list of business growth best practices offered by those who have created the largest black-owned businesses in the country. Check it out here.
SHE LOST HER JOB, AND THEN MADE OVER $80K IN PROFITS DURING MEMPHIS BLACK RESTAURANT WEEK
Black Enterprise contributor Charlene Rhinehart shares the amazing story of Cynthia Daniels, a chief event strategist who lost her job in 2008. Daniels left her home in Atlanta and started a new path in Memphis, walking a road that led to some of her greatest professional victories. She became president of the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, helping small businesses gain visibility as a social media manager. She then launched Memphis Black Restaurant Week—an initiative that generated over $80,000 of profits for local businesses in one week. You’ll want to catch her full interview with Daniels, a remarkable entrepreneur.
(Cynthia Daniels. Image: Courtesy of Cynthia Daniels)
BLACK BUSINESS LEADERS, POLITICIANS MOURN GOLDEN KRUST CEO LOWELL HAWTHORNE
The untimely passing of CEO and president of Golden Krust Bakery and Grill Lowell Hawthorne left many of the most prominent business and political leaders paying tribute to an incredibly talented businessman. Black Enterprise has the full coverage.
(Hawthorne, right, holding a copy of his book at an awards program in Atlanta in May. Image: Facebook)
THIS YOUNG BLACK ROBOTICS ENGINEER AND CEO JUST LANDED A SWEET DEAL WITH APPLE
In addition to being the only black-owned media company to fully cover the largest and most established black-owned companies, we are always keeping an eye out for the next entrepreneurial rising stars. And many of them, like Silas Adekunle, are emerging from the tech sector. Read how this engineer and startup founder sealed a deal that would be the envy of much larger companies.
(Silas Adekunle. Image: Reach Robotics)
KEN CHENAULT TO RETIRE FROM AMEX, LEAVING HANDFUL OF BLACK CEOS AT LARGEST PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES
Ripples ran through the corporate world after Kenneth I. Chenault announced he is retiring from American Express in February 2018 after serving as the company’s chief executive for the past 16 years. His departure reduces the ranks of black CEOs leading the largest publicly traded corporations, including Kenneth Frazier of Merck & Co.; Roger Ferguson of TIAA; Arnold Donald of Carnival Corp.; and Marvin Ellison of JCPenney.
BOZOMA SAINT JOHN ON SHIFT TO UBER, ‘I’M READY’
Named one of Black Enterprise’s “Most Powerful Women in Business” this year, Bozoma “Boz” Saint John showed us just how ready for challenges she is by jumping ship at Apple and taking on the arguably Herculean task of repairing Uber’s public images as the ridesharing company’s chief brand officer.
“People like me jump right into the deep end, head first…I’m already going. The practical and logistical things will catch up, she said after the news broke. Read the full details from an exclusive interview Black Enterprise’s Caroline Clarke had with Boz.
(Bozoma Saint John on the cover of the January/February 2017 edition of Black Enterprise Magazine)