Black History Month annually serves as a season to honor the historical triumphs and struggles of notable Black Americans. This year TREND and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce are highlighting just a handful of the diverse variety of African-American entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses, both established and startup, operating throughout our community.
Chanda Chambers, Chambers Welding & Fabrication
Chanda Chambers, Owner and President of Chambers Welding & Fabrication, founded the company with her husband in 2015. With 25 years of business and maker experience between them, their projects can range from stairway railings for residential properties to custom manufacturing jobs for commercial businesses.
In 2022 Chambers began offering classes for anyone interested in improving their welding skills, and to teach anyone who’s newly interested in learning how to weld. More than 300 students have gone through the Chambers Welding & Fabrication courses to learn more about this specialty craft.
“I believe in opportunities. Opportunities are what got me to where I am today and, in turn, I want to give those opportunities to others who also have the drive and the will,” Chambers says.
Felicia Jackson, CPR Wrap
Felicia Jackson, Owner of CPRWrap, started her business shortly after experiencing a near-tragic occurrence during a car ride with her husband and children. In a moment of panic, she froze and forgot her 20 years of medical training that was needed to stop her son from choking (her husband stepped in and took control of the situation). With this hard-earned understanding that even a medical professional can panic during an emergency, she came up with the business concept for what eventually became CPR Wrap.
CPR Wrap products are accessible and affordable for both civilians as well as professional EMTs/first responders and others who’ve completed the appropriate training to hold a CPR credential. Each quick-open package is accessible, convenient, lightweight and intelligible for handling just about any emergency health situation involving infants, children, or adults.
“It’s something that really could be included in every first aid kit that’s out there,” said Jackson.
Roland McIntyre, Mountaintop Wealth
Roland McIntyre, Owner and Founder of Mountaintop Wealth, started his company out of a passion for eliminating wealth disparities, and a desire to go above and beyond his basic job description to provide more for his community. Mountaintop Wealth operates as a fee-for-service financial consulting firm, where clients’ wealth-building interests always come first.
“I care deeply about Chattanooga,” said McIntyre. “Most of my clients are caregivers and providers for their families at home; they’re having to make sacrifices every day. Their time with me offers them a rare moment to focus on themselves, to reflect on their finances and set some achievable financial goals.”
To ensure his clients emerge with a plan and a clearer understanding of how to go about building personal and household wealth, Mountaintop offers an online resource repository as well as affordable payment plans for ongoing financial advisory services.
Darian Paris, Paris Construction Company
Darian Paris, Owner of Paris Construction Company, builds his customer relationships one [commercial or residential] construction site at a time. From his own personal experience, Paris understands that Black-owned businesses can sometimes confront unique challenges when it comes to accessing capital—particularly when it comes to needing significant lines of credit. As a result, he worked to build fair pricing into his own business model.
For the built environment in inner-city neighborhoods, Paris says construction of “affordable” housing is occasionally synonymous with the use of cheap materials and labor, resulting in poorly built homes. Here, he says Paris Construction instead emphasizes excellent customer service and the use of higher-quality materials like granite countertops on all their projects.
“We want our clients to be proud of their home or business,” said Paris.
Gideon Thomas, Serious Health
Gideon Thomas, Founder and CEO of Serious Health, started her business in 2016 after her family suffered from a series of life-changing medical emergencies. Stepping away from a long career in corporate HR, she had to prioritize seeking out elder care for both her biological father and stepfather, as well as her grandmother. As she navigated an endless maze of paperwork and deficit of quality long-term care options for seniors, Thomas began to realize the current healthcare system has major shortcomings.
“I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur. I’m a problem-solver,” said Thomas.
Serious Health is aimed at increasing access to quality healthcare for underserved communities through its ‘Next of Kin Care’ marketplace. Thomas pioneered technology that can help to connect caregivers with those experiencing chronic illnesses and other disabling conditions, looking beyond available budgets and clinical needs to also consider shared interests and cultural backgrounds.
The following are a few more noteworthy companies that are great representatives for the many Black-owned businesses located in and around the greater-Chattanooga region:
- Cocoa Asante is a locally-based retailer of premium chocolate truffles, bars and bonbons, all made from ethically sourced cocoa from Ghana, West Africa.
- People First partners with organizations and companies to provide strategic advice, tools, and other opportunities to achieve organizational success through human-resources management.
- Scenic City Wellness is a healthcare practice that provides primary care, acute care, and internal medicine for adults with a specialized focus on serving veterans, minorities, and patients with chronic health conditions.
- Six18 Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Chattanooga serves soul food with a modern twist in an intimate, upscale setting.
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive local economy where business owners, companies and employees from all racial and ethnic backgrounds can prosper and thrive. Search the Chamber’s directory of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) clients at bit.ly/DBEdirectory. Find and learn more about local minority-owned businesses through the Chamber’s online Member Directory at bit.ly/CHAdirectory.