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The James Brown Award goes to small business owners

The James Brown Award goes to . . . .

James Joseph Brown, born in Barnwell, S.C., on May 3, 1933, became a musical legend with great sounds, incredible dance moves, and expressive lyrics.

Mr. Brown — as he was referred to in person and as he would only use others’ surname as well — saw his music business and sounds become an influencer of R&B, jazz, and rock.

His music was often his way of expressing his thoughts on societal issues, as well. In his song, “Don’t Be a Drop-Out,” he conveyed his thoughts on the alarming drop-out rates in the 1960s.

Mr. Brown’s work earned him many titles from the “Godfather of Soul” to “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”

It is the latter of these titles that I focus on as I remove the “Show” and recognize, “The Hardest Working People in Business.”

I am proud to announce and convey “The James Brown Award” to our Waco Area Small Business Owners.

For over 50 years, May has been celebrated as Small Business Month and in particular the first week of May has been designated Small Business Week. While the Small Business Administration hasn’t officially declared which this year due to the ongoing pandemic, many organizations and individuals are still celebrated May 2-8, 2021, and why not? We never need an excuse or reason to celebrate the lifeblood of our economy — small businesses.

Small business owners are the lifeblood of our economy as the SBA states, “More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create nearly two out of three new jobs in the U.S.”

And while we celebrate our small business owners, we recognize there is work to do in our community to ensure all community members have equal access to the dream of small business ownership. This is vital to ensure our local economy continues to grow and we all thrive as Wacoans.

In looking at the City of Waco using 2017 data available from the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) we were able to see business lending by census tract for McLennan County.

This data further supports the need to invest in minority small businesses in our LMI (low-to-moderate) communities within the City of Waco. In the map and chart at the end of this article, census tract 14, which represents primarily the 76704 zip code, shows 81% minority population — primarily African American.

In this census tract the data shows only 17 business loans were completed out of 1,312, representing 1.3% of the of the business loans for the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area for this time period. In the census tracts surrounding 76704, areas 15 and 13 show higher minority populations of 97.2% and 92.9%, respectively. In these areas there were a combined total of 14 business loans completed for this time period, representing 1% of all business loans completed.

The combined total number of business loans completed for census tracts 14, 15, and 13 (majority minority census tracts) show 31 completed loans out of 1,312. This total represents 2.4% of all business loans completed during this time period.

I also found, the further the concentration of minorities within a census tract the number of business loans as well as the resulting dollar volume decreases.

While there is still opportunity to ensure equity and parity for all of our local entrepreneurs, there is still much to be celebrated with all of our small business owners.

Stop by a small business and say thank you by BUYING something from them. When you “INTENTIONALLY” stop by and buy from our local small business owners, give them my information ( and tell them Dexter sent you and he wants to make sure you have access to all of the resources you need to ensure not only your small business survives but thrives.

By the way, don’t forget to congratulate them for receiving, “The James Brown Award” for the Hardest Working People in our Business Community.

Happy Small Business Month to all of our small business owners.If you would like to help or invest in supporting our small business owners, please contact me at

Dexter Hall is chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco.


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