HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — As small businesses continue to change during the COVID-19 pandemic, one Houston County man is on a mission to bring minority business owners together in a new chamber of commerce.
The Pond restaurant in Warner Robins is one of the businesses that’s part of it. Owner Joe Wilburn says it’s all about inclusivity.
"I think it's good to help other businesses, other folks that are business minded to help build their dreams," says Wilburn.
Wilburn opened the Pond restaurant in April 2020. He says he joined both the Robins Regional Chamber and the Georgia Minority Chamber of Commerce for the networking opportunities.
"I think it's important to help promote small businesses within the community and I think the chamber of commerce is a great avenue to do that. We're all about trying to support other businesses and all of us really trying to contribute to the fabric of the community," he said.
Zernial Bogan started the Georgia Minority Chamber of Commerce. He previously founded the Champaign County Black Chamber of Commerce in Illinois before moving to Houston County six years ago.
Because he owns his own construction company now; he says he wanted to bring the same chamber to Georgia.
"Having talked to quite a few minority business owners out here, I came to understand that they didn't know and didn't have the information that was relevant to grow their business and support their business and get the education needed to maintain their business," said Bogan.
He says there's currently three or four businesses on board, including Wilburn's restaurant, and although it's geared toward minority business owners, anyone can apply.
"When you say minority, minority is supposed to be a word that includes all persons. No one is rejected, it's about minorities," said Bogan.
Bogan says they're still waiting for accreditation from the state, but they hope they can eventually branch out of just Central Georgia.