Upstate NY Black Chamber helping Black entrepreneurs capitalize on cannabis industry

Business leaders are predicting that New York will be the largest cannabis market in North America.

The Upstate New York Black Chamber of Commerce wants Black business owners to capitalize on that.

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The Black chamber is based in Albany, doing advocacy work there, but helping Black businesses statewide. Leaders there are developing an incubator program for entrepreneurs to help them get in on the ground floor on a product that disproportionately put Black men in jail for decades.

The chamber’s co-founder, Tony Gaddy, is working on putting together the program.

"While this opportunity may be available, understanding that available isn’t necessarily accessible. Our role is to make it accessible," Gaddy said. "Especially for Black-owned businesses, our challenges are historic, systemic—and it doesn’t really matter what industry we’re entering into, those challenges are consistent across the board."

The chamber is in close contact with state officials rolling out legal weed and offering their insight.

They’re also building an incubator program over the next month or so that they hope will bridge the gap between Black business owners’ availability and their access to this industry.

The chamber is enlisting the help of one of its members, who is a cannabis cultivator and consultant in other states.

Ruben Lindo is the CEO of Blak Mar Farms. He’s taught thousands of entrepreneurs in states where it’s legal.

"This industry was built on the backs, and on the liberties, of Black men. And we operated this industry that they’re operating in boardrooms and banks now, and private banks, private equity firms, we operated it in the street, underneath the perils of jail, life in jail, or losing your life on the street. So that means, we built this," he said, explaining his effort to push the state to make good on its promises.

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They’re planning to teach not just potential growers and sellers about the budding market, but also businesspeople in any industry who can take advantage of the money the industry will bring.

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For more information on the incubator program, contact the chamber here.