Jefferson leads charge for minority-owned businesses

Antonio Johnson is chairman of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy: Johnson

The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce aims to assist the community, according to Antonio Jefferson, who serves as president of the organization.

BBMC, with more than 200 members, was created to bring attention and support to women-owned and minority-owned businesses in a five-county region that is geographically considered part of the Big Bend area of North Florida.  The five counties include Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Franklin and Jefferson.

Founded in November 2012, the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce works to fill the gaps in opportunities for these targeted groups by providing a comprehensive menu of programs and services.

Jefferson can vividly remember a time where he needed a shoulder to lean on for extra support, so being able to play a role to create a better life for the community is something that he has a passion for.

“My mission is to stimulate grassroots economic growth and development for minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the Big Bend,” Jefferson said.  “I work with BBMC Board of Directors and professional staff to build and sustain relationships in business and industry at the local, regional and national levels in an effort to expand and strengthen the network of support for women and minority entrepreneurs, and small business owners,” he added.

Last weekend, BBMC hosted a fundraising event designed to support minority-owned businesses. BBMC selected a Title I school in Leon County for its fundraising efforts and made sure that young people in Title I schools have everything they need to remain lifelong learners.

“Events create matchmaking opportunities. Our events connect members to opportunities that will help them grow their businesses,” Jefferson said. “If businesses are able to grow, they hire more people. More people working means more money in our local economy which creates more tax dollars to provide public services to the community.”

Jefferson believes that everyone could use a helping hand at some point in their life. He plans to make it a priority to ensure that individuals get the necessary help needed to prosper within the BBMC program.

“Remember we are in this together. It is not how you start, but how you finish,” Jefferson said.

Prior to the creation of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, there was not a unified voice that advocated, trained, and supported women and minority-owned businesses.

Darryl Jones, a member of the  Leon County School Board, said that Jefferson has been a great help to the BBMC community.

“Jefferson is a well-rounded individual who takes pride in what he does,” Jones said.  “Having a voice to make a difference is what minorities needed and Jefferson provided that voice.”

Jefferson plans to continue to incorporate policies to change the playing field for women and minority-owned businesses.