Over the last five years, Utah’s minority population has increased dramatically. Utah has always been known as very homogenous, and the community has been working to change that perception. One of the organizations committed to this mission is the Utah Black Chamber. The Utah Black Chamber was founded on September 9, 2009, by James Jackson, III from West Jordan, Utah.
The original premise of the chamber was to provide education, resources, and tools to facilitate the growth of Utah’s small black businesses. However, the focus broadened as companies were struggling to retain their diverse talent. So, the chamber expanded its mission to enhance the overall economic development of Utah’s Black Community. The chamber serves as a hub for companies to identify and build relationships with the black community to recruit talent, provide resources and education for business and personal growth, and be an advocate for policies that can further stimulate the growth of the overall community. The chamber also founded its 501(c)3 arm, the UAACC Charitable Foundation in 2018 to further its mission in enhancing the economic prosperity of Utah’s Black community through health, education, and resources.
The Utah Black Chamber has relationships and collaborates with local, city, and state government organizations, business resources, and other chambers to establish a ‘bridge of trust,’ to help Utah’s leading organizations become more diverse and inclusive. According to the 2010 Census, the black population has grown over 30% since the chamber was founded, and the growth has progressively increased due to Utah having one of the nation’s top economies and a steady growth of companies moving into Utah.
To help companies attract and retain diverse talent, the chamber co-founded and are in current development of several programs. In September of 2018, the online diversity guide, www.livingcolorutah.com, was created by Utah’s diverse chambers and organizations to get people connected to Utah’s diverse community. The diverse chambers launched the Utah Diversity Career Fair in 2017. The fair attracts over 50 employers and 250 job seekers each year and growing, and is working with colleges and universities to strengthen the relationships with companies to continue building a pipeline of diverse talent. The chamber also works with other black organizations to not only connect the community, but also to collaborate with other organizations to provide more education and resources to the community for business and personal growth.
First Friday is the chamber’s signature networking event, which occurs in the evening of the first Friday of each month. A BBQ in the park was the chamber’s first-ever event, and had an attendance of about 200 people. That BBQ has now transformed to a massive community event in downtown Salt Lake City with BBQ and a Motown show and attracts nearly 8,000 people.
Another big event is the chamber’s Evening in Harlem, which recognizes the Harlem Renaissance to celebrate Black History Month. This is the chambers only fundraising event of the year that focuses on the mission of its charitable foundation. The chamber also hosts luncheons and breakfasts throughout the year which focus on education and resources for the community.
The Utah Black Chamber is a champion for the diverse community, and an influential partner for Utah’s overall economic growth as companies become more aware that diversity adds dividends.