CINCINNATI — The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual hall of fame celebration online this year because of the pandemic.
The chamber will induct and honor seven Black entrepreneurs on Saturday during Black Business Hall of Fame 2020, which it will stream live on Facebook.
Eric Kearney, president of the chamber, said the gala typically draws about 800 people.
“It's not easy, because you’ve got to explain to people that we’re going to have an event but you won't be able to see and touch people because of the pandemic,” Kearney said.
Kristi Clements Williams, director of transformative initiatives and sponsorships, said pushing through with the induction is a needed motivation.
“We really wanted to make sure that we honored those that we are inducting this year and not trying to wait. Because if there is one thing that we’ve all learned if you didn’t realize it before tomorrow is not promised,” she said.
In addition to inducting seven entrepreneurs, the chamber will present a new award. The chamber will give the Chairman’s Award to Julian “Jay Rodg” Rodgers, a local entrepreneur who owns several bars and restaurants.
“It's easy to do those things when you are in a place where there is constant tourism and people are showing up every weekend to spend money,” Rodgers said. “But to be able to try and create something in a Midwest town like Cincinnati that traditionally has never had a nightlife for us. I felt like it was my civic duty to get my city popping. I want to make sure my city is poppin.”
Rodgers recently opened the city’s only Black-owned BP gas station, located at Winton and North Bend Roads.
“Even in doing a lot of stuff where we are the first or only, it's like I knew it was time for a change and that is the reason why we did it,” Rodgers said.
The event starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, and ticket holders can pick up a historical “shoebox dinner” before the show begins.
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