CLEVELAND (WJW) — Urban Fish Farm is the sort of small Black-owned business that sees a prosperous future ahead.
“Urban Fish Farm is a facility that grows Tilapia. We get the tilapia in at fingerling size and then we raise them to the time that they’re ready to be harvested which is about 10 months,” said partner David Reynolds.
It was born from a smaller fish farm at the Rid-All Green Partnership, an urban agriculture and youth education non-profit in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood.
“This facility that you see here has the capability to do about 100,000 tilapia every 10 months,” Reynolds said.
The company is leaning on a website called The Real Black Friday, a business networking and awareness initiative founded by LaRese Purnell.
“If all of our dollars are being spent outside of our community, how do we build our businesses to make sure that we’re successful?” Purnell asked of the current spending culture within the Black community.
Purnell said he hopes it can make a difference in this time of heightened awareness of racial issues.
“About a week ago I had 700 people join The Real Black Friday on Instagram and I would say about a third of those were white that joined. Because people are saying, ‘Hey, how do we come back into the community and make sure that we are you know unified?'”
He relaunched the directory on Juneteenth with new features.
“You can leave comments for the business and you can rate the business and give feedback.”
The organization is especially focused now on helping business owners learn and grow from that feedback.
“In order for them to be sustainable, that we have to ramp it up and make sure that we’re a real partner in this. That we’re able to say hey guys, here’s a training about finances, here’s a training about legal structure,” Purnell said.
He said he has seen more businesses sign up recently from sectors like fitness, non-profits and even churches.
Reynolds said they’re glad to have an online partner as they grow the business.
“We’re about 3 years old, but the first literally year and a half was building the facility getting the permits, starting the permits so now we want to start getting our name out there,” Reynolds said.
But both men said it goes beyond black businesses and consumers.
“It takes a community to build a community. So it takes more than just one facet or segment in order to create true economic impact.”
Purnell said they plan to have 400 additional black-owned businesses in Northeast Ohio on the directory by July 15.