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At the Sherman Phoenix, Black Businesses Rise

Black-owned small businesses are closing at nearly twice the national rate, but at this Milwaukee community hub, business is thriving.

About this episode:

The holidays should be the busiest time of the year, but small businesses everywhere have been crushed by the pandemic and its restrictions. The picture is especially grim for Black-owned small businesses, which closed at twice the rate of white-owned small businesses this spring.

But in the city of Milwaukee, there’s a bright spot. A collective of mostly Black-owned businesses is not only surviving, its thriving.

For entrepreneurs JoAnne and Maanaan Sabir, envisioning a place where that could be possible, began in 2016, following the police shooting of a young Black man that set off days of protests. Two years later, the Sabirs opened the Sherman Phoenix, a community healing space and hub of more than two dozen small businesses.

Business owners within the Sherman Phoenix have been able to stave off closures and financial hardship tied to COVID-19. Trymaine Lee talks to Adija Smith, a Phoenix tenant about her journey from home baker to storefront owner, and how she’s relied on and supported her fellow Black business owners within the collective.

And Trymaine sits down with JoAnne and Maanaan to talk about how the Sherman Phoenix could provide a model for other Black community spaces, especially during tough times.

Find the transcript here.

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