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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.”

Community Features

Free Lead Testing in East Omaha

SPONSORED CONTENT

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is often found in soil, paint produced before 1978, older pipes, toys and even food. When it enters the body, its effects can be toxic, causing neurological and developmental damage and effecting organs, such as the lungs and kidneys.

When it comes to lead, there is no safe level.  Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning, as their bodies absorb higher concentrations of lead than adults.  This can cause permanent damage to their cognitive and physical development.

  • Due to historic lead air pollution deposits, the eastern part of Omaha is designated as an EPA Superfund site. Therefore, properties located in this site are eligible for free soil sampling and testing.
  • If the concentration of lead in the soil exceeds the EPA’s threshold, the City will perform free remediation of the soil.
  • Properties that meet these criteria are eligible for an assessment of the exterior for lead-based paint. If lead is found, a free paint stabilization will be done.

The City of Omaha has set up an easy-to-use website where Omaha residents can check to see if their property was tested for lead and remediated.  Results from soil tests can also be found at the website: www.omahalead.org.

For more information about lead in Omaha and links to other programs available for residents to help keep their family safe from lead, go to www.gotlead.org or 402-731-3045.

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Coming Events

Magic Johnson returning to Omaha Sept. 30th for 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference

Published:  Friday, September 2, 2022

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, five time NBA champion and one of the world’s leading business executives, entrepreneurs and philanthropists is returning to Omaha to keynote the Empowerment Network’s 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Tickets are now available at AALCOMAHA.com

“This is incredibly exciting for us,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder of the Empowerment Network.  “Magic’s visit in May was absolutely amazing.  Many in attendance said it was one of the best speeches they’ve ever heard and I agree 100%,” said Barney.

“His message was extremely relevant and resonates will all ages…career advancement, leadership, teamwork, generational wealth, investing in our youth and community-building.”

“He has also proven that businesses can be highly successful in urban communities and he has demonstrated leadership in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Johnson has been a champion at every level.  He is best known for his legendary performance on the basketball court.  He and the Lakers transformed the NBA in the 80’s with a new style of basketball.  The showtime Lakers dominated with one of the greatest lineups of all time.

Beyond the basketball court, Magic is still making headlines.  As he puts it, Earvin is building a legacy through developing urban communities, business and sports team ownership and investments in advanced technology.

“After thinking and praying about who should be our speaker in September, ‘Run it Back’ was in my spirit.  Bring Magic back to build on the themes from May and deliver a new message to help accelerate our progress over the next 10 years,” said Barney.  “Our board president, Timothy Christian, reached out to Magic and his response was overwhelmingly positive as he loved his experience in Omaha.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Mr. Earvin “Magic” Johnson back in Omaha for the 10th Annual African-American Leadership Conference,” said Christian.  “Mr. Johnson embodies everything we stand for at the Empowerment Network.  He is a proven leader on and off the court and he cares deeply about helping African-Americans and the underserved across the country. We’re looking forward to the wisdom he will share during the conference.”

“In addition to the seasoned and emerging leaders from all sectors, we also want more of our high school and college students to hear the message and we will have specific sessions for them as well,” said Barney.

The African-American Leadership Conferences promises to be even bigger and better.  In addition to Magic Johnson, the Network will feature four national keynote speakers, dozens of local leaders and experts.

National strategist and partners, Dr. Will Moreland – Using Your Gifts for Career Advancement and Creating Multiple Streams of Income; Suzan Hart – Rewriting Your Story to Live with Purpose; Dr. George Fraser – Building Strong Businesses to Create Jobs and Thriving Communities; and, Dr. Pamela Jolly – Using the Wealth Checklist to Build Legacy Wealth.  They along with others will present from the main stage and host breakout sessions.

       

Local speakers will include: Veta Jeffrey, CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce; Jay Warren-Teamer, Director of Diversity and Inclusion – Blue Cross Blue Shield; Aaron Austin, Chief Human Resources Officer – CHI Health Center; Dr. Cheryl Logan, Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools; Raquel Henderson, Pathway Coordinator – Metropolitan Community College and dozens of others.

Plus, representatives from 10 regional and national cities looking to replicate the Empowerment Network collective approach will be in attendance.

The conference will also feature a full scale Revive Black Business Expo including dozens of Omaha’s Black business owners, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“As one of the original members of the Empowerment Network and a person committed to the success of our community, it has been amazing to see the progress we have made,” said John Ewing, Vice President of the Board.  “I’m excited for the future of our great city and future collaborations with leaders like Earvin “Magic” Johnson that will help us continue this great transformation.”

Current major sponsors include:

Platinum
CHI Health
ConAgra Brands

Gold
Union Pacific
American National Bank

Bronze
Children’s Hospital
Wells Fargo
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Get your tickets locked in today:  www.aalcomaha.com

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NEWS

Aug. 27th…Revive Black Business Summit…Maximizing Technology

We’re building capacity and momentum.  How can you maximize technology to grow your business?

Please use these links to learn more and register.

Learn More Here

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The next Revive Black Business Summit will be held Saturday, August 27th from 8:00 am to 10:30 am. It will be in-person and virtual.

We’ve had a great response with the first three summits with over 125 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.

Please use these links to learn more and register.

Learn More Here

Register Here

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