More than a year ago, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked waves of protests against racism, and ignited national and local efforts to be more inclusive.
Now, with the launch of BlackBizDeLand.com, one of those local efforts has finally come to fruition.
The West Volusia Chapter of the NAACP and DeLand Pride worked together to create a fully searchable directory of Black-owned businesses, not only in DeLand, but throughout Volusia County.
“We are happy to have been a catalyst to bring this resource to our community and look forward to seeing it grow,” DeLand Pride’s Desiree Sylvester said.
The project began when DeLand Pride, a local nonprofit organization active in the LGBTQ community, was awarded a microgrant by the Central Florida Foundation to “Improve racial inclusivity in DeLand.”
In conjunction with representatives from DeLand’s Black community, the City of DeLand, Volusia County and Stetson University, an active Black-owned business directory was determined to be the most worthwhile use of the $500 grant.
“When the George Floyd thing happened, everybody wanted to be supportive,” West Volusia NAACP Communication Chair Kimberly Cline said. “Everyone felt so helpless and mad and frustrated, but we can fight with our dollars, right?”
Cline developed and maintains the website.
Previous efforts, like The Minority Business Network website run by West Volusia NAACP Economic Director Vernon Moore, were used as a starting point for BlackBizDeLand.com. Moore is also involved in the new site.
The West Volusia NAACP plans to provide additional support for the businesses, including marketing strategies and other business resources, and is continuing to promote the directory in local neighborhoods and by reaching out to businesses.
Inclusion for businesses is free of charge, and requests can be submitted through an online form available on the site.
Although it is currently called “BlackBizDeLand.com,” the website includes all Volusia County cities. Any Black-owned business in Volusia can request to be included.
By Dec. 1, the site will officially become BlackBizVolusia.com.
Currently there are 50 businesses on the site, although, according to Cline, one day after the press release on the website, 15 additional businesses had signed up.
Visitors can search by keyword, location and category to find specific products or services.
The goal is to make a positive impact on local economic equality, DeLand Pride and the West Volusia NAACP, Cline said.