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Published:  Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Carver Legacy Center, an innovative collaborative approach to building black businesses and thriving communities was publicly announced on August 30, 2020 and formally opened on April 4, 2022.

Carver Legacy Center Owners and Partners with Elected Officials and Strategic Collaborators (April 4, 2022 Soft Opening)

After nearly five years of behind the scenes work to develop formal partnerships, the collaboration is bringing new life to the historic Carver building located in the village at 24th and Lake.

Co-founders and co-owners Willie and Yolanda Barney and Martin, and Lynnell Williams have created a joint venture with American National Bank to make it happen.

The focus of the Center is creating wealth for African-Americans and North Omaha residents through business ownership, home ownership and community ownership.

“18 months ago we stood before the community and promised to renovate the historic Carver building and launch a new financial center, develop a Hub and Accelerator for small businesses where they can launch, scale and grow, and create a store and pop-up incubator where Black businesses and North Omaha entrepreneurs can feature their products and services.  Today, we are back to have you experience it for yourself.  Welcome to the Carver Legacy Center,” said Willie Barney, co-owner and co-founder.

“For over 22 years, Yolanda and I have worked to launch, support, promote and expand black businesses.”

“We are excited to partner with Martin and Lynnell Williams and American National Bank.  To be able to do this in the historic building where the first Black-owned financial institution in Nebraska was opened 78 years ago, the place where Whitney Young launched a program to increase Black homeownership and the building that housed the offices of some of Omaha’s history-making black leaders is especially meaningful to all of us.”

The Carver Legacy Center will have several components.

Carver Legacy Center Co-owners and Co-Founders:  Willie and Yolanda Barney and Lynnell and Martin Williams.  Carver Savings and Loan, the first Black-owned financial institution in the state of Nebraska opened in 1944 and closed in the mid 1960’s.  The Carver Legacy Center owners purchased the building and partnered with American National Bank to bring financial services, hubs and accelerators and wealth building systems back to 24th and Lake.

 

CARVER LEGACY FINANCIAL SERVICES

The Carver Legacy Financial Services Center, a joint venture with American National Bank, will bring banking services to 24th and Lake, and provide increased access to credit and capital for Black businesses and North Omaha residents.

With the joint venture with American National Bank, individuals, families, organizations, churches and businesses can open accounts and make deposits at any American National Bank location by designating a Carver Legacy Account.  American National Bank is a member of the FDIC which means deposits are insured.

Loans leveraged by these deposits will benefit Black businesses and individuals, and North Omaha residents and businesses.

In Phase III to come later, the Carver at 24th and Lake is working to become a full service branch which will allow all banking services to be provided at that location.

“We are excited about partnering with the Barney and Williams families to make this happen at this historic location,” said John Kotouc, Co-chairman of American National Bank. “We are bringing our banking experience, expertise and considerable investments to this collaborative approach.”

“American National Bank is committed to supporting this Black-owned business and initiative and we want this to serve as another catalyst for further community-based development in North Omaha.”

Kotouc also emphasizes that this is not an exclusive situation.  “We will play a role, but we challenge and encourage other financial institutions to also get involved with this project.  It will benefit the entire community.”

In addition to the financial center, the Carver Legacy Center will house three other important components:  Hub & Accelerators; Revive Omaha Store and Pop-Up Incubator; and Legacy Wealth Center.

HUB AND ACCELERATORS

The Hub will be the new home for Revive Omaha and the Revive Black Business Network.  It will also feature shared office and meeting space for the DreamBusiness Accelerator and other business collaborators.

“Nine years ago, we created the Revive Black Business Network which has connected with over 300 black owned businesses,” said Yolanda Barney, co founder and Vice President of SMB Enterprises.

“One of the things we have heard most consistently is we need more funds to launch and expand our business.  We can’t get loans.  Entrepreneurs have also told us they would like support with finance, sales, technology, admin, marketing and branding.”

While the Financial Center will help bring funding together, the Hub will be a place to help entrepreneurs with connecting with other business owners and resources, launching their vision and provide technical assistance to help take their businesses to scale.

The Accelerators run by the Barneys and Williams will also connect black businesses to supplier diversity and procurement opportunities with major companies.

“We are excited to be open for business at the Carver Legacy Center. The process of building and introducing this financial services center was a work of passion and commitment to our community,” said Martin Williams, co-owner and co-founder.

“We have worked for the past 30 years on cultural approaches to launch and grow successful businesses.”

He and his wife Lynnell are founders and strategic leaders of Ambassador Worship Center and have established several businesses nationally and internationally, including Barak II which is the partner with the Carver.

“Using what we have learned by helping others to launch million dollar businesses, we are blessed to be a part of bringing the Carver back to life and helping families to build generational wealth.”

The Hub will utilize a collaborative approach that all three families have dedicated themselves to over many years.  The Revive Black Business Network will operate a start-up accelerator and the Williams will facilitate a scale-up accelerator through their DreamBusiness program.

Other businesses will bring their specific expertise to the table.  Hayes and Associates and Advance Tax Solutions will support businesses with finance, accounting and tax services.  Technology Consulting Solutions and others will assist with technology.

Business Seals and others will assist with business plans and financial forecasts.  PPRP Innovations will support market research, pricing and market growth strategies.  Other black owned businesses will assist with social media, branding, marketing, HR and operations.

“We wanted to create one place where an entrepreneur can go from idea to launch and then to scale and expansion,” said Willie Barney.

“We are also finalizing partnerships with other specialists and organizations who will offer services at the Center.”

REVIVE OMAHA STORE AND POP-UP INCUBATOR

Another key component to the Center will be the Revive Store and Pop Up Incubator.  The space where Big Mama’s sandwich shop operated will be multi-use.

It will feature products created by African-Americans and North Omaha residents.  The space will also serve as a pop-up incubator for businesses that would like to introduce their products to the community.

“It’s a perfect space for a small business to host an event to showcase their products while also giving them a chance to test market and gather valuable experience” said Yolanda Barney.

“Our goal is to help them step out into their entrepreneurship journey and then hopefully locate a business in the 24th and Lake District or another key corridor in North Omaha.”

 

LEGACY WEALTH CENTER

The final piece of the four part strategy is the Legacy Wealth Center.  A core element in the vision is financial empowerment and community ownership.  The team wants to see residents save, improve credit scores, purchase insurance, invest in stocks, purchase land and homes, become business owners and pass wealth to future generations.

The Legacy Wealth Center will feature workshops, special events and classes to help residents with accomplishing their financial goals.  We will have guest speakers and experts in their fields share their time and talent with members.  Participants will learn more about turning their gifts and talents into revenue producing businesses and multiple streams of income.

“This is the part that gets me most excited,” said Lynnell Williams.  “We want to teach families everything we have learned about building wealth.  That starts with breaking cycles and implementing discipline in the areas of finance.”

“Carver Legacy Center is committed to bridging the gap for all ages and ensuring that our young ones get a head start on understanding money matters!  Our future depends on how well we financially prepare our youth.”

The Carver Legacy Center will also house the Revive Black Business Network which has national strategic advisors, including Dr. Pamela Jolly, Dr. Randal Pinkett and Tawanna Black.  They will also support and offer wealth building classes and sessions.

As the Carver Legacy Center moves through the phases, the team will also work with local and national partners to create collective investment opportunities.  This will be a platform to pool and leverage resources.

“We believe the reopening of the Carver is like digging up the wells that made North Omaha a great place to live, worship, work and own homes and businesses,” said Martin Williams.  “As we move forward, we will work with others to help residents to create wealth and ownership.”

 

COLLABORATION

Other local collaborators include:  Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Family Housing Advisory Services, Omaha 100, Shift Omaha, Creighton University, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Nebraska – UNO.

“American National Bank is committed to helping to develop strong communities and we are very supportive of many organizations in North Omaha,” said Wende Kotouc.

“We have worked with Willie and Yolanda and Martin and Lynnell for many years and they have consistently worked with others to produce measurable results. They have shown again and again they know how to make things happen.  We are excited to be involved in this effort.   Earnest White who has a long history of community involvement will be our ambassador to Carver.”

Willie Barney added, “We want to specifically thank Michael Maroney, Ben Gray, the City of Omaha Mayors Office and Planning Department, Lorie Lewis, Ernest White, Ryan Meyer, Steph Gould, Jackie Vinci, Patti Kuhre, Pamela Jolly and Katie Weitz for their support as we have worked to develop this Center.”

“We believe the Carver will be an important piece of accelerating progress at 24th and Lake, in North Omaha and for African-American communities.”

“Omaha is known for wealth, we want it to be known for creating Black wealth as well and rebuilding a thriving North Omaha.”

NEWS

Summit presents keys to building a solid foundation for your business

Published:  Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The March Revive Black Business Summit was one of the best yet.  The speakers were all outstanding with inspiring and instructional presentations.

Over 100 Black business owners, entrepreneurs and support organizations have participated with the Revive Black Business Summits in 2022.

The theme to start the year has been all about creating a strong foundation for your business and getting connected with resources – including funding.

The first summit of the year in January provided a comprehensive perspective and included some of Omaha’s most successful Black business owners, entrepreneurs and dozens of support organizations.

The second summit zeroed in on credit, banking, investing and wealth building.

The third summit held on Saturday, March 26th focused on creating and building business plans, financial projections, using data and market research to grow your business, insurance options for business owners, and identifying and selecting the right attorney.

Deborah Dogba, founder and CEO of Business Seals, is a local expert on business plans, operations and launching businesses.   She provided an excellent overview of strong business plans and financials.

“Business plans aren’t just for new businesses or preparing to go to see a banker,” said Dogba.  “You should revisit and update your plan frequently.”

She added, “Your financial projections tell the bank whether or not you are worth the risk of investment.  They want to know will they get their money back?”

“As a business owner, you must have your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statements on hand and ready.”

Raheem Sanders, “The Innovation Man” founder and owner of PPRP Innovations, delivered a powerful piece as he shared valuable insights that he tagged as Move, Do, Act and Costs.

“It’s not just about the numbers, what is the data telling us and are we looking at the right data,” said Sanders.  “These levers will help you grow your business.  Are we moving people to act, and do we know the costs?”

“Conversion rates help you understand how to get potential customers to move, do and act; and the lower the conversion rate, the more profitable your business becomes.”

Shawntal Mallory, consultant and executive Director of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council, captured the groups attention with key elements to consider when selecting an attorney for your business.

“Be prepared, do your research, take advantage of the free consult, and make sure the relationship is a good fit,” said Mallory.

She added a bonus, “Don’t forget you can always fire your attorney if it’s not working for you.”

Cort Bonner, business owner and longtime State Farm Agent, closed out the presentations with some key insights regarding insurance.

Bonner said that when he speaks with clients, he breaks down his recommendation into three areas:  Property.  Protection.  People.

It was clear that his passion is making sure that business owners and all individuals have life insurance policies.

“It’s unfortunate that in too many cases, after a love one dies in our community, I’m not writing a check to their families from their insurance coverage, but a check to make a contribution or buying a dinner at church to help them bury their loved one,” said Bonner.

“We need to make sure our families have life insurance, and you as a business owner must have insurance to make sure your family receives the benefit.”

Dr. George Fraser provided the icing on the cake by reinforcing key elements for entrepreneurial success.  He closed out the event with a consistent message.

“If you don’t have a system, you don’t have a business,” said Fraser.  “And, you don’t build a business, people build the business. Your job as the leader is to build the people.”

His message connected directly to the purpose of the event.

Willie Barney, co-founder of the Revive Black Business Network along with his wife, Yolanda, added:  “The Revive Black Business Summits and Network are focused on building strong leaders, that build strong people, that build strong businesses and communities.”

Learn more about the Revive Black Business Network, here.

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NEWS

$475 million North Omaha Recovery Plan advances to the next step

Published:  Friday, March 25, 2022

After extensive and spirited debate, Nebraska state senators advanced the North Omaha Recovery Act to the next phase on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

With a 28-0 vote and 19 non-votes, the $475 million package was moved to select file and will now go through some adjustments based on the discussions heard on the floor of the Nebraska Unicameral.  It will need to advance through two more rounds of debate in order to make it to Governor Pete Rickett’s desk.

The plan calls for investments in entrepreneurship, employment, job creation, workforce training, housing, and tourism.   It is a business centric approach to help address the disproportionate impact of  COVID-19 and the underlying economic conditions that have hindered North Omaha for decades.

Senators Justin Wayne and Terrell McKinney presented a compelling case for the much needed funds to help accelerate improvements and developments in North and South Omaha and other communities with qualified census tracts around the state.

“North Omaha has been neglected for decades,” said Wayne.  “This is exactly what the ARPA funds were designed for.  But, it doesn’t matter to me where the funds come from.  ARPA.  Cash reserve.  General funds.  I am open.”

Some senators questioned the level of investment and wanted to know more about the process for implementation.

McKinney had an answer.  “One area we can find funds is the $175 million currently budgeted for a prison,” he said.  “Let’s invest in people, not prisons.  That is the responsible and conservative thing to do.”

Other senators voiced support, but said they would want more details about the amount and the sources of the funds before they vote on the next round.

Wayne responded.  “It’s interesting that some senators had absolutely no questions with how we allocated $4 billion dollars with the overall state budget, but now want to question every detail when it comes to North Omaha.”

The bill was initially introduced by Wayne and McKinney based on their review of other plans for North Omaha.  Over fifty testifiers traveled to Lincoln to speak with the Urban Affairs and Appropriations Committees during public hearings.

Later, Senator Tony Vargas of South Omaha and a group of business leaders developed a separate $50 million proposal for South Omaha. Thirty additional speakers attended the hearing for the South Omaha bill.

Eventually, the senators from North and South Omaha decided to join forces and created the East Omaha Recovery Plan.  That plan was voted out of the Urban Affairs Committee on a 6-1 vote leading to this first round discussion with the full senate.

It will come back to the floor for the next round after some additional discussions and negotiations between the senators.

“We will come back with more details and we are willing to talk to anyone about the best way to move things forward,” said Wayne.

“To make it plain, this is our attempt to put a boot factory in North Omaha to provide our community with the proverbial boots that they have yet to receive in our lifetime in order to give them the tools and empower them to pull themselves up,” added McKinney.

The debate on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature the entire week has primarily focused on the state budget, use of the federal ARPA funds, the needs of North Omaha, whether to build a new prison or invest in reforms and other important issues facing the state.  Negotiations between senators are ongoing to finalize the amount that will be allocated to North and South Omaha and for projects across the state.

Learn more about the plan.  www.northomaha2022.com

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Coming Events

March 26th: Revive Black Business Summit…Business Plans, Research, Insurance & Legal

We’re building capacity and momentum.  Let’s maximize resources and every opportunity available.

Please use these links to learn more and register.

https://reviveomahamagazine.com/revive-black-business-summit-march/

Register Here

The next Revive Black Business Summit will be held Saturday, March 26th from 8:00 am to 10:30 am. It will be in-person and virtual.

We’ve had a great response with the first two summits with over 100 Black businesses, entrepreneurs and support organizations participating.  Let’s keep building together!

The location for the in-person event will be the Revive Center.  Breakfast and Networking will start at 8:00 am.  This month we will focus on Business Plans, Market Research, Insurance, Legal and Resources.  

We have four dynamic local speakers and we will be joined again by two of our national strategic partners, Tawanna Black and Dr. George Fraser.

Please use these links to learn more and register.

https://reviveomahamagazine.com/revive-black-business-summit-march/

Register Here

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Recap of the Revive Black Summit from February:

 

https://reviveomahamagazine.com/revive-black-business-summit-focuses-on-finances-credit-investing-and-resources/

 

Here’s a recap of the first Summit.  Amazing!  Thank you to all presenters and attendees.

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