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Black owned business coming to Columbia sparks minority disparity discussion


The coronavirus pandemic, along with a struggling economic climate has created challenges for some minority and women-owned businesses, but one woman, worked as a health care worker through the pandemic and was able to invest in her business.

Kayshun Robinson, owner of The Art House, worked 60-70 hour weeks in health care, working to invest in her business and her children.

Robinson said the pandemic was hard on her as it was for many people. Being a single mother and a health care worker was not easy. At times when many people had off, health care workers didn't, but Robinson knew she was working towards her goal.

"The pandemic kinda made everyone realize like always have a backup plan, because it paused everyone's life but we still had to make money some way," Robinson said.

In just about a week, Robinson plans to open a "drink and paint" store on Broadway Blvd, which will also include activities for kids.

"I do kids' parties with themes and sell kids crafts and all different types of stuff," Robinson said.

The pandemic has caused entrepreneurial trouble for many, but downtown Columbia has a disparity in women and minority-owned businesses.

Nickie Davis, Executive Director with the Downtown District CID, said the district has very few black-owned businesses.

"You can probably count on both hands how many black-owned businesses we have," Davis said.

The city, Downtown District and REDI are working to bring more attention and assistance to minority-owned businesses.

The city has a directory where people can find minority-owned businesses in the city to support.

Jay Sparks, Entrepreneurship coordinator with REDI is actively looking for a person to fill the supplier diversity position.

"That position is currently our initiative for working with minority businesses and making sure the community has someone confident and respectful to work with," Sparks said.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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