Entrepreneur and author Claud Anderson visited Grand Rapids last week as part of the Grand Rapids Black Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Entrepreneurial Speaker Series.
The GRBCC plans to hold the speaker series annually. It promises to bring dynamic and inspiring leaders in the African-American community to Grand Rapids to discuss relevant economic issues and the impact on business growth and development.
Anderson is president of Waterland Fisheries, president of Harvest Institute and author of “Powernomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America.” He also served as state coordinator of education for Gov. Reubin Askew of Florida during the years of integration. He served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Carter and chaired a commission that funded and directed economic development activities for governors.
Anderson’s approximately 40-minute speech focused mostly on the information and plan he sets out in his book. He identified structured wealth inequity and inappropriate behavior as the two most fundamental problems facing black Americans.
One of Anderson’s key messages — echoed earlier this month by the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses association — is that African-Americans need to start spending money within their own communities and support black business owners, which in turn can lead to job creation and more businesses.
He noted that African-Americans are the only group that does not do this, saying the money that comes into the black community immediately is spent elsewhere.
Anderson said in a press release: “Black Americans were brought to this country to be a labor force. Their problem is not the lack of jobs. The lack of jobs is a symptom of their lack of wealth and businesses that produce jobs. Our society does not prioritize creating businesses for Blacks the way it does for other groups.”
Anderson proposes African-Americans must build lateral group economies complete with material supply chains, manufacturing, distribution and retail centers, as well as supportive spending habits.