Restaurateur Keven Parker is gearing up for his latest business venture.
Next month, Parker will open the doors of KDP Lifestyle and Luxury Suites — a home store and a boutique hotel on South Street.
Located on the first floor of 1310 South Street, KDP Lifestyle will offer shoppers an array of home décor goods that reflect Parker’s eclectic style.
“The store is going to be a reflection of my lifestyle, a reflection of the things that I like,” says Parker, who has a passion for interior decorating.
The upper-floor luxury suites, which have been appointed by Parker, are outfitted with small kitchens and marble bathrooms. The stylish suites are geared towards guests who seek to stay long-term.
“A boutique hotel gives you the feeling of going to a small boutique shop as opposed to a bed and breakfast that is very structured. When you go to a boutique, you expect a certain sense of style,” he says.
Parker initially set out to launch KDP Lifestyles two years ago, however he felt the concept needed further tweaking.
“I’m at this point because it’s the right time,” says Parker, who is known as the dynamo behind of Ms. Tootsie’s RBL (Restaurant Bar & Lounge) and Simply Delicious Caterers.
After Parker and his mother, Joyce Parker, launched Ms. Tootsie’s 15 years ago, the eatery became known for serving up tasty soul food offerings.
Parker aspires to create a destination by offering guests an opportunity to dine, sleep and shop in the same location.
“It’s really about creating a brand. It’s really about helping people understand that it’s more than a restaurant, it’s more than just a boutique hotel, it’s more than just a store,” says Parker.
“It’s really about creating a destination. When people come to Philadelphia, they want to look for the destination places to go and that’s my ultimate goal. The goal is to sell the entire experience — to eat, drink, sleep and shop.”
An invitation-only grand opening is scheduled for November 3 at KDP Lifestyle.
Parker and his mother were working on launching KDP Lifestyle and publishing a cookbook with her recipes before she passed on July 23.
“I knew that what my mother gave me was powerful. I knew that what my mother gave me, the book of recipes and family techniques was powerful and I knew that people would want it,” says Parker.
“I stand on solid ground because of the foundation that my mother has built. I know that we had a vision as a team and we got to fulfill the vision.”
Parker’s vision goes well beyond the border of South Street. Franchise packets will be available, enabling Ms. Tootsie’s locations to be launched in Atlanta, Ga. and Washington, D.C. He’s also planning to publish his mother’s cookbook and a book highlighting his success as an entrepreneur in 2012.
When Parker opened Ms. Tootsie’s 15 years ago, he encountered many naysayers who claimed that he would not be successful on South Street. However Parker’s strategic investment paid off and he would prove the naysayers wrong. Prior to Ms. Tootsie’s expansion, it was common to see diners waiting outside until they could snag a table. Today Ms. Tootsie’s RBL can accommodate more than 200 people and host more than one function in its various lounges.
Africa is open for business.
That was the overarching message shared during the African and Caribbean Business Council’s Business Roundtable.
Held at the Penn Museum, the event brought together Philadelphia region business leaders and ambassadors and representatives from six African and Caribbean countries to discuss the theme of driving economic development and building access to the global market.
Stanley Straughter, chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs launched the roundtable by encouraging businesses to tap into the African marketplace.
“Seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. It’s just phenomenal what’s going on in Africa, and unfortunately for some reason the United States just hasn’t caught up to it yet,” said Straughter.
During the four-hour roundtable, ambassadors from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago, gave an overview of their respective countries and potential investment opportunities.
Investment potential exists in the areas of alternative energy, oil, fisheries and sustainable agriculture for many of the countries represented. In South Africa, opportunities exist in the areas of aerospace technologies, automobile and defense and agri-processing.
During the event, David Briel, Executive Director, Center for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, addressed how the state assists international trade efforts.
The center will assist 10 companies in a trade mission to South Africa from February 21 to March 2. The mission includes meetings in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
Barbara Span, vice president of Western Union, touted the African Diaspora Marketplace competition. Funded by U.S. Aid and Western Union, the business plan competition is geared towards connecting Diaspora entrepreneurs with the country of their origin. This year’s competition focuses on entrepreneurs in three sectors including information and communications technology (ICT), agribusiness and alternative energy. Winners will receive grants of $100,000 to start and grow small and medium sized businesses in 18 African countries. Official details about the competition will be announced later this week.
Founded in 2006, the ACBC promotes the business interests of African and Caribbean entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia area.
NEW YORK — Bank of America will cut about 30,000 jobs over the next few years in a bid to save $5 billion per year. The cost-cutting drive is part of a broader effort to reshape and shrink the nation's largest bank as it copes with fallout from the housing bust.
The bank announced the job cuts in a statement shortly after Brian Moynihan, the bank's CEO, disclosed the cost-saving goals in an address to investors in New York. "We're a much simpler company than we were 24 months ago," Moynihan said.
Bank of America stock was up 2 cents at $7 at midday. The stock has lost half its value this year, largely over problems related to poorly-written mortgages it acquired with its 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp. The bank faces lawsuits from investors and regulators over the sales of mortgage-backed securities that lost value after the housing boom collapsed.
The job cuts follow a revamp of the bank's top management team last week. Two senior executives, wealth management head Sallie Krawcheck and head of consumer banking Joe Price, left the bank. The bank also elevated commercial banking chief David Darnell and investment banking head Tom Montag to co-chief operating officers, reporting to Moynihan.
The latest job cuts will lead to a 10 percent reduction in the bank's work force of 288,000. The cuts come on top of 6,000 positions the bank has already eliminated through the third quarter of this year.
The Charlotte, N.C. company said it expects many of the cuts to come through attrition and eliminating unfilled positions. The bank says the number of job cuts isn't fixed, but that it expects they will total 30,000. It hopes to save $5 billion in annual costs through 2014 under a cost-cutting plan dubbed internally as "Project New BAC." -- (AP)
Four years ago, Florcy Morriset launched Vivant Art Collection with a focus on showcasing Haitian art.
The Old City-based gallery now features art from Cuba, Haiti, Africa and the Middle East.
“It’s been an organic transition. I think when I first started the gallery I wanted to dispel this whole myth of Haiti being a poverty-stricken country. It quickly became a place to celebrate art from all over the world,” says Morriset.
The gallery at 60 North Second St. became known as a meeting destination for community organizations.
Making inroads with the community has held Morriset’s business in good stead.
“I think that community connection has given me the opportunity to survive this economic downturn. To survive in this time as an art gallery is a big deal,” says Morriset.
In order to survive in today’s economic climate, Morriset changed her business model. In addition to offering the gallery as a place to host fundraisers and receptions, Morriset now offers consulting services to artists.
She wants to help artists learn more about the business side of selling art.
“I really get the opportunity to empower artists and work with institutions that are trying to diversify their programming by doing more cultural programs,” Morrisett said.
When Morriset launched Vivant, she started out with a collection of 100 pieces of art. She has since expanded the collection to the point where she’s sold 1,000 pieces of artwork.
She’s added a new vibe to the mix by launching a new exhibit titled “Cuba Librè – A Toast to Cuba’s Artistic Freedom.”
The exhibit features an array of paintings Morrisett purchased during an October trip to Cuba. The artwork offers a canvas’ view into Cuba’s daily life and culture.
“What I find so special is even through their political strife … their art and their culture is so bold. Through all of the oppressions that they have had, they are still allowed to be artistic,” Morriset says of the Cuban artists.
“You see the influence of Africa. You see the influence of jazz. You see the influence of daily life. You see the influence of the people.”
Morriset is marking her fourth anniversary with a four-day celebration at Vivant.
“I’ve done a lot with women business owners, young professionals and musicians. These networks have really been the bones and structure of the gallery in terms of events,” she says.
“This is a way for me to say thank you to them and really honor some of the leaders and women business owners who have come before me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Vivant’s Anniversary: 4 Years – 4 Days of Celebration” kicks off with a Lyrics and Cocktails mixer on November 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. The social mixer will be hosted by Elizabeth Wellington, fashion columnist, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Jenice Armstrong, columnist, Philadelphia Daily News.
A celebrity art auction will be held November 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Vivant. Sponsored by Philly 360, the signature art auction will benefit the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Fresh Artists, a Philadelphia nonprofit.
The celebration continues with “Vivant Spotlights: Young Professionals” on November 18. This two-part affair serves to spotlight young professionals across Philadelphia. A luncheon will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and a networking event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guest speakers include E. Steven Collins, director of Urban Marketing and External Affairs for Radio One; Deirdre Childress, Film and Entertainment editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Sheinelle Jones, Fox 29 news personality and Bobbi Booker, lifestyles writer.
The celebration wraps up with the “Vivant Salutes: Women in Business” event on November 19 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This year’s honorees include Kimberly S. Reed, Melinda Emerson, Cecil Rahman, Karen Robinson, Tracey Lynn, Karen Taylor Bass and Rosalyn McPherson.
For Morriset, 2011 has been a banner year. She was recognized by City Council as the Next Generation of Leadership, Rising Star and by the Philadelphia Tribune as one of the 10 People to Look Out for in 2011. She was also selected as a 2011 cultural ambassador for Philly 360.
“This year has been a culmination of all the work that I’ve been doing since I started the gallery,” Morriset said.
NEW YORK — Netflix Inc. is separating its DVD-by-mail business from the online movie streaming service it sees as the future of entertainment consumption.
In announcing the changes, CEO Reed Hastings also apologized to subscribers for the way the company communicated its decision to split the two services, which raised prices for those who want both.
The mail order plan will be renamed "Qwikster." In a few weeks, Netflix subscribers who want to get DVDs by mail will go to a separate website to access Qwikster. The streaming business will continue to be called Netflix.
Members who subscribe to both services will have two entries on their credit card statements. Instead of Netflix, the distinctive red envelopes that end up in customers' mailboxes will now say Qwikster.
It's a risky gamble. The amount of streaming content the company offers is still far less than the number of DVDs in its catalog. And competition, from Hulu, Amazon, Coinstar's Redbox kiosks and other services, is growing. Netflix could even alienate customers further by asking them to now deal with two separate websites and accounts instead of just one.
Hastings apologized for the way the company communicated the price changes, but not for the price hike itself.
"I messed up," the CEO wrote in a blog post Sunday night that was also emailed to subscribers.
The changes come as the company faces increasing scrutiny from customers and shareholders over the decision announced in July to separate its mail order and Internet streaming services into two separate plans. The change raised the prices for users who want both services, by as much as 60 percent for some.
"Our view is with this split of the businesses, we will be better at streaming, and we will be better at DVD by mail," Hastings wrote.
Last week, Netflix lowered its U.S. subscriber forecast for the third quarter and the former stock market darling's shares took a beating as a result.
Hastings said he "slid into arrogance based upon past success" when he did not adequately explain the reasons behind the plan separation and effective price hike. He said the reason is that instant streaming and DVD-by-mail are becoming "two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently."
Explaining the reasons behind the plan change "wouldn't have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do," Hastings wrote.
Netflix announced its move just as the once-mighty Borders Inc. shuttered the last of its bookstores around the country. Hastings' blog post seemed to take heed. He said that for the past five years, his "greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming."
"Most companies that are great at something — like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores — do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices," he wrote.
Hastings said the DVD service will be the same as ever, "just a new name." But customers will see a video games upgrade option for game rentals on the Qwikster website. Andy Rendich, who has been working on Netflix's DVD service for 12 years, and leading it for the past four years, will be the CEO of Qwikster.
Hastings also said Netflix will add "substantial" streaming content in the next few months, and reassured that there are no more pricing changes.
Shares of Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix fell $5.19, or 3.4 percent, to $150 in afternoon trading. The stock is down about 48 percent since July 12, when the company announced the plan pricing changes. -- (AP)
Sylvia’s, a famed Harlem mainstay, has celebrated 50 years of serving up soul food.
Founded in 1962 by the late Sylvia Woods, the restaurant was known for offering staples such as fried chicken, ribs, corn bread and candied yams that earned Woods the nickname “Queen of Soul Food.”
What was once a small luncheonette at 328 Lenox Avenue in New York flourished into a popular eatery that drew noted politicians, tourists, celebrities and local residents.
Woods died July 19 at the age of 86, just before she was to receive an award from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg commemorating the restaurant’s 50th anniversary. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Her family is striving to keep her legacy alive.
Woods’ granddaughter, Tren’ness Woods-Black says planning to mark the restaurant’s anniversary was a bittersweet moment for the family.
“It was really important to her for the anniversary to be marked in a way that the legacy that was being built just showed,” says Woods-Black.
She says there is a great sense of pride in the strides made by her grandmother and family.
“It’s not just something for us. I think for Harlem at large, for the African-American culture, for the American culinary scene — a restaurant marking 50 years is no small feat,” Woods-Black says of the restaurant’s milestone.
“I think that the restaurant making 50 years is just a testament to staying true to the foundation and the goals that the restaurant was built upon — and that was family and community first — and staying true to bringing the very best soul food that we have to offer.”
Woods-Black says that the restaurant’s ability to keep its core ingredients, yet adapt its menu with changing times by offering healthier alternatives and offering a welcoming atmosphere have been key aspects of its success.
“There’s three generations in the business and everyone is very much hands on. We talk to our customers. We know them by name. We spend a lot of time in the restaurant, and so you have to make it a home away from home,” says Woods-Black, who went from busing tables at Sylvia’s as a teenager to vice president of communications.
Woods-Black says many of Sylvia’s customers hail from Philadelphia, as many bus tours from schools, churches and organizations frequent the Harlem eatery.
Sylvia’s marked 50 years in business by hosting a Golden Jubilee celebration sponsored by Target on August 1. The community breakfast event drew more than 300 Harlem residents, celebrities and dignitaries.
“They’ve really helped us to make this 50th anniversary extra special,” Woods-Black says of the retailer.
“As a family business, we’re always conscious of who we partner with and Target was so perfect because we share the same values. We’re all about the community and giving back through education.”
When Target opened its first Harlem store in 2010, it stocked store shelves with products from Sylvia’s food line of canned vegetables, sauces, spices and mixes. Now, select Target stores nationwide carry Sylvia’s products.
“Target is a retailer that shares Sylvia’s same passion for the Harlem community. Target intentionally chose Harlem as its first Manhattan store because the community embodies the retailer’s values of community, diversity and being a good neighbor,” Target officials said in a statement.
Woods, who hailed from South Carolina, opened Sylvia’s in 1962. It was once a 35-seat luncheonette where she once worked as a waitress. She and her husband Herbert borrowed money from her mother, who mortgaged her farm in South Carolina to purchase the restaurant. Since then it has grown into a famed entity that includes the restaurant, a catering company and a nationwide line of Sylvia’s food products. She also penned “Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook: From Hemingway, South Carolina, To Harlem” and “Sylvia’s Soul Food.”
Woods maintained Sylvia’s until her 80th birthday, when she passed the torch to her children and grandchildren.
In 2001, the family launched the Sylvia and Herbert Woods Scholarship Fund that benefits students from Harlem. Since its inception, the fund has awarded scholarships to 76 students. A second anniversary dinner will be held October 26 at Sylvia’s to benefit the scholarship fund.
The Woods family has set ambitious goals for the future, which include developing real estate along Lenox Avenue.
“We’re looking to build a new facility — something that will harness the charm that maintains that 1962 feel, but also have a modern, Southern soul food ambiance as well,” says Woods-Black.
Plans are also in the works to launch a new cookbook, open new locations in Maryland and Florida, and bring a new lifestyle cooking show to television.
“Soul food is a very important cultural identity marker for African Americans, and we consider ourselves to be ambassadors for that,” added Woods-Black.
Erik Honesty has brought his collection of stylish vintage finds to Old City.
Earlier this month, Honesty opened the doors of Galerie D’Cultured Couture, a vintage high fashion boutique and fine art gallery.
When consumers walk into the shop at 240 Church Street, they can enjoy the sounds of jazz while browsing through original paintings, men’s and women’s designer clothing, and upscale furniture.
The shop currently features an array of high-end vintage clothing and accessories from designers such as Burberry, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent and authentic Louis Vuitton luggage.
The new shop is a spin-off of Honesty’s first retail location, Cultured Couture Vintage at 703 West Girard Avenue, which specializes in menswear. Back in 2005, Honesty decided to develop the Cultured Couture menswear line, after shopping at flea markets and thrift outlets for his personal clothing. This led him to brand his first retail store under the same name.
“When you come into Cultured Couture you encounter pieces that represent the individual. It’s almost like they were made for you,” says Honesty.
By offering a boutique-like environment, Honesty aspires to bring a different flair to how vintage clothing is presented. Shoppers usually have to rummage through thrift stores for vintage goods. With that in mind, Honesty wanted to offer shoppers a pleasant shopping environment.
“I just wanted to curate and edit the clothing in a way where people can look at it and almost question if it’s new or if it’s old. There’s some good quality out there. You just have to present it in a nice way,” says the 27-year-old native of North Philadelphia.
The combination of the presentation of his stylish apparel and an attractive price point held Honesty in good stead through a challenging time in the economy.
He launched Cultured Couture with the focus on providing high-end vintage at an affordable price.
“I believe that the concept allowed me to stand out. My price point is very respectable for what I’m selling, so that allowed me to stay afloat,” says Honesty, who studied business administration at Lincoln University.
After operating Cultured Couture for more than a year in Northern Liberties, Honesty decided to scout around for a second location. He partnered with artist Ayinde Purnell to open the shop. Some of Purnell’s paintings line the walls of the Galerie.
Honesty enjoys the thrill of traveling through the city and to New Jersey, Boston and Maryland to hunt for goods to stock the store racks.
“That’s what I love the most. I love hunting and I love merchandising,” says Honesty.
When Sebastian McCall realized that there was a need for quality jeans to fit various sizes, he was spurred to launch his own line.
“We launched our brand pretty much out of necessity in the market,” says McCall, who launched Sebastian McCall Jeans in 2010.
McCall started his brand at a time when the economy slowed down, and many jeans vendors started cutting back on quality to increase their profit margins.
“I figured that I could control the consistency of the manufacturing with my own brand. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I wanted to be a premium brand,” said McCall, who is the owner of Charles Porter Boutique, Inc.
McCall used experience culled from 12 years of interacting with customers at his retail stores Charlie’s Jeans, to design the brand. He aspired to create jeans that were superior in quality and fit.
The jeans retail for $150 and up and come in skinny, straight leg, slim boot cut, boot cut and trouser varieties. Sizes range from 23 to 36 (00 to 16) for women, and 29 to 40 for men. They are currently sold at the Charlie’s Jeans stores located at 233 Market Street and 1733 Chestnut Street.
“The jean was designed so that a person could just take it off the rack and it fits. That is what I think sets us apart from other jean brands,” says the 38-year-old Philadelphia native.
McCall spends a significant amount of time designing his jeans, tweaking patterns and flying back and forth to the manufacturing plant in California. McCall says 80 percent of his fabrics are from the U.S., while 20 percent is sourced from Italy.
The McCall label accounts for 75 percent of the Charlie’s Jeans denim sales. In addition to the Sebastian McCall label, Charlie’s Jeans carries 30 other brands, including 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Hudson and J Brand. The stores sell approximately 1,000 pairs of jeans per month.
While the focus is on denim, Charlie’s Jeans also feature blouses, shirts, dresses and jackets.
Meredith Albert, general manager, Charlie’s Jeans is often on hand to advise customers about finding their ideal fit in denim. She helps customers narrow down their selection.
“When women come into the store, they want jeans that fit them well. They’re so used to going into stores (where) they’re taking everything in on their own, spending a lot of time in the fitting room and coming out with nothing, feeling discouraged because they don’t find anything that fits them,” Albert said.
Despite the state of economy, McCall says his business has fared well during the recession. He was able to hire employees and has experienced growth.
“I’m proud that we started our brand during the recession and as far as our books, we didn’t miss a beat,” McCall added.
According to McCall, the brand’s core market is comprised of professional women over 25.
McCall’s next step is to take the brand beyond his retail stores and into premium retailers such as Barney’s Co-op, Saks and Neiman Marcus.
McCall is tapping into a burgeoning segment in the apparel industry. According to retail research firm The NPD Group, the premium denim market has grown to about $2.2 billion of the almost $14 billion in denim sales. The NPD Group classifies premium denim as jeans priced above $50.
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce has appointed new members to its board of directors for 2011–2012.
The announcement follows the gathering of more than 1,400 business, civic and community leaders from the Greater Philadelphia region at the Chamber’s 211th Annual Meeting.
“We are grateful to welcome such a talented and diverse pool of volunteer leaders to our board,” said Rob Wonderling, Chamber of Commerce president & CEO.
“We look forward to their vital contributions and collaboration in the tradition of supporting the business community and general public. They provide support in many arenas, through resources, action, and as informed advocates on public policy issues.”
The new board members are Donna L. Allie, president and founder, Team Clean, Inc.; Attorney Bruce D. Armon, office managing partner, Saul Ewing LLP; Joe Banner, president, Philadelphia Eagles; Ray Carballada, president, Shooters, Inc.; Christopher S. Clark, chief operating officer, FiberLink; Henry C. Foley, vice president for Research, dean of the Graduate School, Penn State University; John Grady, president, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.
Other new board members include Hernán Guaracao, publisher and CEO, Al Dia News, Inc.; Wendy Hamilton, general manager, Sugar House Casino; Michael G. Horsey, office managing partner, Mitchell & Titus, LLP; Kathleen P. Kinslow, president & CEO, Aria Health System; Robert G. Leib, president & CEO, Leib Solutions; Tina Malek (Young Professionals Network Chair), vice president, director of Marketing Communications, Beneficial Bank; Kathleen T. O'Reilly, managing director, Philadelphia Metro Office, Accenture; Gregory J. Osberg, Publisher & CEO, Philadelphia Media Network, Inc.; Attorney Alfred W. Putnam, Jr., chairman, Drinker Biddle & Reath; Marc Rayfield, senior vice president, Market Manager, CBS Philadelphia Radio; Paul D. Ridder, President, Tasty Baking Company; Sue Schick, chief executive officer, United Healthcare of Pennsylvania; Evelyn F. Smalls, president and CEO, United Bank of Philadelphia; Marcus Starke, national vice president, North America Marketing, SAP America; Stephen S. Tang, president & CEO, University City Science Center; D. Michael Wilson, President, Specialty Chemicals Group, FMC; Richard D. Wood, III, Sustainability project manager, WAWA, Inc.; and Audrey Zibelman, president, CEO and founder, Viridity Energy Inc.
In addition, new members were appointed to the Executive Committee, the board’s governing body led by William P. Hankowsky, GPCC chairman of the board of directors and Chairman, President and CEO, Liberty Property Trust. They are: Joseph C. Cosgrove, president and CEO, Pentec Health Incorporated; Gerard Fasano, president, IS&GS Defense, Lockheed Martin Corporation; John A. Fry, president, Drexel University; Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross; and Geoffrey Kent, CEO, Cognis IT.
Danny Wright, owner of Danny’s Auto Tags, credits President Barack Obama’s administration with helping his business grow and expand.
“As a small businessman who has been around a long time, I’ve seen the ups and downs in our economy, and it got a point to where my business began to fluctuate, but because the president empowered small businesses with tax cuts it has helped me tremendously,” says Wright, whose business specializes in automotive titling and certification.
Wright has benefited from President Obama’s Small Business Jobs Act — which made 4.5 million small businesses eligible for a larger tax break on new investments in equipment and machinery. The provision allowed Wright to expense 100 percent of a recent $20,000 investment he made in equipment to expand his operation.
According to the Obama administration, the Small Business Jobs Act also supported more than $12 billion in small business loans, 21 percent of which went to minority-owned businesses. Wright has been able to access a credit line of $150,000 from a local bank, and due to tax cuts six of his employees have received pay raises.
Wright, who has been in business almost 24 years, says the success of a business goes beyond the policies of the president. He says it’s important to consider factors such as a business’ location, the business owner’s training and how the business is being marketed. Throughout the years, Wright has assisted other auto tag agency owners in getting their businesses up and running.
“I’ve been around, and I’ve seen a lot of business like mine come and go. Number one, we have to remind ourselves that everyone that opens up a business doesn’t succeed, and that has nothing to do with the president,” says Wright, who has two locations, 88 Sparks Street and 7184 Ogontz Avenue.
One aspect that has been critical to the longevity of Danny’s Auto Tags is being located where its services are in demand.
“Locality and everything makes a difference. Some people say, ‘I’m going to open up a business,’ but they haven’t done their homework. They haven’t gotten out there and done the footwork,” Wright pointed out.
Wright’s business has also been instrumental in helping Philadelphia residents register to vote.
He is one of several small business owners who are sharing their story to highlight Obama’s support for American small businesses.
Paulette Beale, owner of Paul Beale’s Florist, says she does not blame Obama for the state of the economy and challenges facing small businesses. During 2008 and 2009, the florist shop saw a dip in sales.
“I’m not one of those who put in on the Obama administration. I can’t say that whatever is going wrong is because of the Obama administration. I say this because when President Obama was elected, we were having a hard time. We were having a hard time when President Bush was in office. We are doing better than we were three or four years ago,” says Beale.
Beale’s parents, Paul and Altermese Beale, opened the florist shop at 7220 Ogontz Avenue in May 1971 with a Small Business Administration loan.
Despite the challenges, the family-operated business has been a mainstay for 41 years
“It hasn’t always been easy. We do have to make sacrifices,” says Beale.
“We try to give the customers good service and a quality product — and pray that they keep coming back.”
Beale thinks the president could accomplish more if Congress were willing to work with him and get more legislation passed. She says one of the things that would benefit small businesses is if they had more access to loans. While she hasn’t had to apply for a business loan, Beale says it’s important that other business owners have better access to capital.
She would like to see Obama re-elected.
“We want him to get back in office. I don’t think that he’s finished what he needs to do or what he has started. We remain optimistic,” she added.
With Election Day less than 100 days away, the Obama administration has been highlighting its strides in assisting small businesses — which include reducing health care costs, boosting financial resources, helping businesses access federal contracts and promoting startups and entrepreneurs.
Since 2009, under Obama’s leadership, the Small Business Administration has supported more than 150,000 small businesses with nearly $80 billion in loans — a record for 7(a) and 504 program lending. The SBA has supported more than $9 billion in loans for small businesses in Pennsylvania.
According to the administration, Obama has cut taxes for small business owners 18 times and signed into law $200 billion in tax relief and incentives that benefited American businesses over the last three years to encourage them to create jobs and invest in growth.
To help more small businesses access federal contracts, Obama created a partnership program that pairs small businesses with larger firms to help them compete for business. Since 2009, the Obama administration has awarded nearly $300 billion in federal prime contracts to small businesses.
Under the Obama administration, national start-up creation went up by nearly 20,000 new businesses during the first two years of the president’s term.