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Non-profit helping Black entrepreneurs in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) -Every year, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area is ranked as one of the worst places for Black Americans. That’s according 24/7 Wall Street, which ranks cities based on things like unemployment, income, and homeownership among Black people.

The Black Business Entrepreneur and Accelerator Program is working with the University of Northern Iowa to provide classes and opportunities specifically for Black entrepreneurs. Organizers say it’s a step to improving the quality of life in the Cedar Valley.

Dominique Wallican wants to satisfy the seafood craving in the Cedar Valley. She started her own business, Dominque’s Seafood, last year. She cooks out of her kitchen and caters and sells at places like the UNI campus for now.

“My goal is to be in a brick-and-mortar building,” she said. “And have a food truck.”

She says it’s hard for Black businesses to get started in the Cedar Valley.

“Owning things tends to be more difficult,” she said. “There are lots of disparities in lending, and just a lack of support here in the Cedar Valley.”

Wallican took part in the first six-month program for Black business owners, wrapping up in February. It’s a free six-month program. They will start the program with a new set of entrepreneurs next week. Some business owners have already seen success from it.

“As a first-generation college student, as a first-generation entrepreneur,” said Wallican. “We just were not given the opportunities to learn things like how to market, how to network, how to build a support system.”

The program also helps businesses hurt during the pandemic, making sure they can survive during these tough times.

“Blacks were getting in our area 1.86 percent of the PPP funding,” said ReShonda Young, Director for The Black Business Entrepreneur and Accelerator Program.

Wallican is determined to be a success story.

“I thought I’d offer the Cedar Valley some premium Seafood prepared with love,” she said.

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