Two Virginia politicians teamed together to bring exposure to minority-owned businesses on the Peninsula on Friday, in hopes to provide diverse inclusiveness to empower a new generation of leaders.
Del. Hala S. Ayala, who represents the 51st district, and is the Democratic nominee in the 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election, met with the Newport News Commissioner of Revenue, Tiffany M. Boyle, at Patrick Henry Mall, to contribute to minority-owned businesses by purchasing an item from each company or by providing a forum for them to introduce their business to the media.
Ayala and Boyle met with a locally favored clothing brand store, City on my Chest, where CEO and Newport News native Tommy Reamon Jr. discussed with Ayala and Boyle about starting the company, from the T-shirt design “I’m So Newport News” to providing merchandise to over 100 cities nationwide. Reamon’s focus is to empower the local Black community and advocate for area youth. He also expressed his appreciativeness as the two politicians cared enough to “check on the little guys.”
“When you’re in a space where someone is celebrating their progress and really giving back to the community all at the same time you can’t help but to love, empower, and spread the word,” Ayala said.
“It is important to not only see the businesses holding up the infrastructure of our community, but make sure they are empowered by listening to their story and what got them started,” Ayala said.
Ayala continued to share how she is inspired to see that companies like City on My Chest are passionate about their work and proud to represent their community. The House of Delegates worked to empower entrepreneurship by implementing a diversity inclusion officer, and presenting studies on small women-owned businesses.
“We need to understand why Black-owned businesses are not faring as well as our white counterpart businesses,” she said.
Boyle said she is focused on how to improve minority businesses by finding disparities. Improvement can begin by providing government contracts on a local and statewide level. Boyle also shared that the commissioner office is still in the research phase; nevertheless, data collection is needed.
“A minority owned business is only receiving 10 percent of the government contracts on a local level, but we don’t have the data to vocalize that, we need to push for that data so we will know what the goals are, and how we can move toward a more equitable playing field,” she said.