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What Is Your Business’s Value Proposition?

As I go about my daily routine of helping Black owned businesses in Oregon and Southwest Washington establish, grow, and prosper, I make sure that the businesses are practicing the four principles of marketing which are, product, price, place and promotion. These four principles when working in tandem will attract the attention of potential customers. However, I also let business owners know that most businesses practice the four principles of marketing and lot of them are their competitors. With that in mind I work with Black owned businesses to develop their value proposition to give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

A value proposition is a statement that clearly identifies the benefits a company’s products and services generates customers. A strong value proposition will differentiate the business, the products and service from competitors in the marketplace and draw in customers.

There are three elements of a strong value proposition:

1. Value. The product or service must be something that the customer needs or really wants.

2. Differentiation. There must be something about the product or services that makes it more attractive than competitors.

3. Substantiation. The product or service must satisfy the customer

When it comes to products or services being offered by a business it is important for the customer to see their value. The best way to do that is to clearly explain how a product or service fills a need, communicate the specifics of its added benefit, and state the reason why it’s better than similar products or services on the market.

Here are the four types of customer value:

1. Functional Value. Is determined by the product or services as to whether it they meet the customer’s needs and wants and the usefulness of the products.

2. Monetary Value. Refers to the value of a product or service measured in terms of the costs.

3. Social Value. The positive impact and value that a product or service brings to society as a whole, beyond mere functionality.

4. Psychological Value. The extent to which a product or service allows customers to express themselves or feel better.

If a business’s products or services is able to meet these criteria, a business will have a diverse customer base that will clearly see the value of its products and will

To be competitive, it is important for businesses to show differentiation from the competition. Essentially, differentiation in business refers to the principle of setting your company apart from the competition through a specific element, such as your distribution network or price-point. It provides a superior level of value to your customers and helps your company to distinguish itself in the marketplace.

Here are some ideas from the Will Williams of JDR Group on how to differentiate your business from others:

1. Create A Genuinely Unique Selling Point. Research your competitors and identify some that only your business is doing compared to the others.

2. Do Business Differently. Research the way your competitors are doing business and whatever they are doing, do it better.

3. Solve Your Customer’s Problems. Understand the issues of your customers and tailor your products and services to solve their problems.

4. Don’t Be Too General. Don’t try to sell everything. Instead specialize in one or two niche areas that are in high demand, and provide your customers the best quality and price of those products or services.

5. Establish Your Individual Business Culture. Establish a customer experience through your business culture that ties into what the customers actually want.

6. Be Better and More Creative at Marketing. Your marketing strategy shouldn’t emphasize the ways in which you’re similar to your competitors, but the ways in which you are different. Don’t be afraid to break the mold with your marketing communications.

Businesses that can clearly show that they are different and better than their competitors will stand out in the marketplace and will attract customers to their products and services.

The best customers are those who frequent business on a regular basis to purchase their products and services. If they have a great customer experience, substantiation of the business’s products or services is imminent.

Here is how to make sure your customers are satisfied with your products and services:

1. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity. Understand how your customers define quality and make sure that the products or services meet their standards.

2. Over Deliver on Performance. Make sure that the price does not overshadow the performance of your products or services.

3. Keep Offerings Current. Make sure your products and services are keeping up with the trends of the market and needs of the customers.

4. Customer Engagement. Organizes interactions and activities into a streamlined plan to create the ultimate customer experience, including before and after the purchase.

A competitive advantage is anything that will give a business an edge over its competitors, helping it attract more customers and grow its market share. With the right value proposition, Black owned businesses can be competitive and do well in the broader marketplace.

A message from our Executive Director/ June 2023

Pictured XB Portland + Lance

African Americans Can Successfully Master The Game of Capitalism

Earl Gilbert Graves Sr. was an American entrepreneur, publisher, businessman, philanthropist, and advocate of African American businesses.
A graduate of my alma mater Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, Graves was the Founder and Publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine and is considered the quintessential entrepreneur who created a vehicle of information and advocacy that has inspired four generations of African Americans to build wealth through entrepreneurship, career advancement, and money management.

In his award-winning, now classic, business bestseller, How To Succeed In Business Without Being White, Graves stated his life-defining purpose for founding Black Enterprise in simple, direct terms: “The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community. Black Enterprise was committed to educating, inspiring, and uplifting its readers. I aimed to show them how to thrive professionally, economically, and as proactive, empowered citizens.” Graves makes one of the most profound statements in his book: “Economic power is the key to success in a capitalistic society. Business is the means to that power. African Americans can play this game, and we can win at it. You can succeed in business without being white.” What is this game called capitalism, and how can we, as African Americans, win?

Capitalism is an economic and political system in which private owners control a country’s trade and industry for profit. For African Americans, capitalism is a political movement seeking to build wealth through the ownership and development of businesses. The way African Americans can play and win the capitalism game is to understand three basic principles: (1) entrepreneurship, (2) vertical integration, and (3) group economics.
Entrepreneurship is essential for creating wealth in a capitalistic society. To succeed in capitalism, African American entrepreneurs must establish and maintain viable businesses to become financially independent and acquire economic power. This requires African American entrepreneurs to master the four key elements of owning and running a successful business: product, market, money, and people.

Once African American entrepreneurs successfully master running a viable business, they must position their businesses for growth. The best way to do this is through vertical integration. This is an expansion strategy where a business takes control over one or more stages in the production or distribution of its products. This strategy allows a business to streamline its operations, reduce costs and increase revenue by taking direct ownership of the production process. However, it also creates an opportunity for other Black-owned businesses to participate in group economics which is critical to building up our Black communities.

When successful African American entrepreneurs, who have established businesses, invest in up-and-coming African American entrepreneurs and create opportunities for them to be suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for their businesses, it will bring about group economics for the Black community.

Group economics is a concept that emphasizes the financial empowerment and growth of a community through the collaborative efforts of its members. Cooperation among Black community members, businesses, and institutions is crucial for the success of group economics. By forming strategic partnerships, members can create synergies that lead to innovative business models, job creation, and overall economic growth.
If the three basic principles, entrepreneurship, vertical integration, and group economics, are practiced consistently by African American entrepreneurs, we will master the game of capitalism and improve the overall economic conditions of our communities.


June 16, 2023   

Black Business Association of Oregon Announces Alaska Airlines is Their Official Airline Partner for Black Business Recruiting 

Portland, Ore.: The Black Business Association of Oregon is pleased to announce Alaska Airlines as its official airline partner to help recruit Black-owned businesses to Oregon.   

The BBAO will reach out to CEOs and Presidents nationwide to encourage them to visit Oregon and consider the state as a place to relocate or expand their operations. Alaska Airlines will provide air travel for business prospects looking to establish a presence in Oregon.  

“In addition to our efforts to retain and grow Black-owned businesses in the state, the BBAO also works to encourage Black businesses from around the country to consider relocating or expanding their operations in Oregon,” says Lance Randall, Executive Director of the BBAO. “We are currently working with two Black-owned businesses, one from Florida and one from Ohio, that have committed to set up their operations in the state.”   

The BBAO works to recruit Black-owned businesses to Oregon by targeting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs across the country and enticing them to invest, start-up, or expand their businesses in Oregon, providing accurate, up-to-date, and credible demographic information about investing, relocating, or expanding their operations in Oregon.  

“As more states increase their assault on individuals’ basic rights, businesses are looking to relocate to states more conducive to equity,” says Randall. ”Many initiatives are underway, and investments are being made to uplift Black-owned businesses and Black communities across the state. Because of that, we are getting many inquiries from Black-owned companies nationwide. We are doing our part to market the state to Black-owned businesses, and this partnership with Alaska Airlines is a key component of our recruiting efforts.”  

Serving as the main point of contact and host for prospects that visit Oregon looking to relocate or expand, the BBAO will identify potential sites and work with the state, county, and municipal governments to develop tax incentive packages for Black prospects looking to make investments or create jobs in Oregon.  

“Alaska Airlines is proud to partner with the Black Business Association of Oregon and contribute to the organization’s efforts to create more opportunities for Black businesses,” says Harry Cheema, Public Affairs Manager for Alaska Airlines. “Building economic equity requires intentional prioritization and collaboration, and Alaska knows it will take all of us to ensure Portland’s growth is equitable. We’re proud to have served the people of Portland for decades, and we look forward to working hand in hand with the BBAO in creating economically vibrant communities where people feel welcome and represented.”   

Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines and our regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico. We strive to be the most caring airline with award-winning customer service and an industry-leading loyalty program. As a member of the oneworldalliance, and with our additional global partners, our guests can travel to more than 1,000 destinations on more than 25 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world. Learn more about Alaska at and follow @alaskaairnews for news and stories. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group.  

About Black Business Association of Oregon: The Black Business Association of Oregon (BBAO) is an economic development organization striving to achieve economic equity that is sustainable and lasting for Black-owned businesses in Oregon. For more information, visit   



2027 Lloyd Center   

Portland, Oregon 97232     


Media Contact:   

Sommer Martin, Communications Director   

Black Business Association of Oregon   

Office: (503)770-0016 

A message from our Executive Director (May 2023)

The Key To Growing Oregon’s Economy Is Finding And Growing Business Owned By People Of Color

The Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) is where the public and private sector turn to find businesses of color for contracting opportunities in Oregon. The problem with this system is that the process to become certified is so challenging that many business owners of color, especially Black business owners, struggle to complete the process or simply choose not to pursue COBID certification. As a result, the COBID database is not representative of businesses of color that are licensed to operate in Oregon.

Every business that wants to operate in the state of Oregon must apply for a business license and renew the license annually through the Secretary of State’s Office. While it is possible to view all businesses that are licensed to operate in Oregon through the Secretary of State website portal, there is no way to identify which businesses are owned by people of color.

There are many businesses owned by people of color that are licensed to do business in Oregon, but it is difficult to find out who owns the businesses and where they are located. This makes it challenging for private sector businesses to find businesses of color for contracting opportunities. It also makes it difficult for organizations that can help businesses get COBID certification, identify and locate businesses owned by people of color to help them get certified. Businesses owned by people of color are not getting enough contracting opportunities in the private and public sector because of this issue and legislative proposal can help remedy this problem.

A new approach to help Oregon do a better job in helping create opportunity for businesses owned by people of color, is legislation that would allow every business that applies for or renews a business license, to identify the ethnicity of the business owner or principal of any corporation legally operating in state of Oregon on the business license application. In addition, the Secretary of State website portal should be updated to allow the non-profit organizations that serve businesses owned by people of color to request a list of businesses using the race or ethnicity of the business owner as a filter.

2022 marked the 20th year for Annual Leadership Summit, a forum that draws business, community, and elected leaders from across the state to address policy issues critical to Oregon’s economy and life.

In preparation for the event, Oregon Business prepared a preliminary 10-point policy agenda with an overarching vision of Shared Prosperity, that will present opportunities for action in 2023 and beyond. Point number 9 of the policy is, “Economic Development: Create an economic development infrastructure that supports business expansion statewide.”

The preamble of Policy Point 9 states, “It’s time to rethink how we organize for economic development. Effective economic development efforts bring community leaders together to provide responsive services and to make the case for doing

business here. Currently, Oregon’s public and private efforts are well-meaning, but scattered and misaligned. As a result, Oregon is missing opportunities to create, recruit and grow businesses.”

One of the 3 recommendations in this section is to, “Create a state-level forum to identify and address the specific challenges of minority and women owned businesses.”

To be successful with this recommendation, it is important for the state to be able to identify the individual businesses that are owned by people of color and where their businesses are physically located. This is the best way to identify and address specific challenges of businesses owned by people of color.

State Representative Janelle Bynum State Representative Travis Nelson, introduced Oregon House Bill 3272 which permits the Secretary of State to collect and share and communicate with approved organizations information about ethnicity, domicile and gender, veteran status and street address or electronic mail address of owner or principal of large business that applies for or renews license, permit or registration in Oregon. The bill requires local agencies and state agencies to collect and report information about ethnicity, domicile and veteran status of owner or principal of large business.

This legislation calls for the establishment of a Business Registration Information Center within the Office of the Secretary of State to collect culturally specific data from existing and new registrants and share the information with community-based organizations that foster economic development and engage in substantive efforts to increase the number of minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and businesses that veterans own. The data will also make it easier to find these kinds of businesses that already exist so that they can receive services to help them grow and expand.

Oregon House Bill 3272 is currently in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. It is important that this legislation be passed out of this committee and referred to the Oregon House and Senate for full approval.

If this legislation passes both Chambers and is signed by the Governor, it will help us truly understand the diverse make up of businesses in Oregon, make it easier for culturally specific business to find businesses of color and help grow and expand. This in turn will not only improve the economic condition of communities of color but will also improve the economic condition of the entire state of Oregon.

I encourage our elected officials to pass this legislation so that all businesses can be successful and help grow Oregon’s economy.

The BBAO Launches Foodie Passport to Support BIPOC Restaurants in the Portland Region

Portland, Ore.: As part of its partnership with DoorDash’s Accelerator for Local Restaurants, the Black Business Association of Oregon is creating and releasing a Portland Metropolitan Foodie Passport Program to encourage people to visit BIPOC restaurants in the Portland region by offering discounts on food. Participants will be entered in a drawing to win a $500, $300, or $200 gift card at the completion of the program. 

Participants in the program are comprised of over 50% women and/or BIPOC-owned restaurants including: AkadiPDX, Bamboo House, DB Dessert Company, Pollo Bravo, Downtown Freddie Brown Deli, Fat Cupcake, Jelana’s Bakeshop, Sunee Thai and Lao Kitchen, Le Bontemps Café + Catering, Love Belizean, Pinky’s Pizza, Thai Yummy Foods, The Joynt Juice Bar, Trapkitchen, Unicorn Bake Shop, Viking Soul Food, The Lodge Bar + Grill, and Xōcotl.   

“DoorDash is proud to have partnered with the Black Business Association of Oregon as part of our work to empower local restaurateurs,” said Kierra Phifer, DoorDash’s Northwest Public Engagement Manager. “We’re excited to see participants of the Portland cohort of our Accelerator for Local Restaurants leverage the network they built with their cohort. In addition to the training, grants, and networking opportunities each restaurant owner received, the Foodie Passport Program is another way that participation in this cohort helps restaurants share their cuisine with new customers.” 

The Foodie Passport program is designed to take the passport holder on a journey to experience some of the best food and drink establishments in the Portland Metropolitan Area. During the journey, the holder will enjoy a discount at the participating bakeries, bars, and restaurants from the participants who graduated from the Accelerator Program in December 2022.    

“It was indeed a pleasure to work with DoorDash on the Portland Accelerator Program. The grant dollars that were given to the restaurants not only helped them recover from the pandemic but also helped them stay in business,” says Lance Randall, Executive Director of the Black Business Association of Oregon. “The Foodie Passport Program is a way to encourage food lovers from across the region to visit the wonderful restaurants that participated in the program to help them continue to thrive.”  

Present the Passport to a server to receive a 10% discount on the purchase, then meet the owner or manager of the establishment and have them stamp your Passport. At the end of the Foodie journey of visiting all 20 establishments, turn in the Passport to the last establishment visited and become eligible to receive up to $500 worth of gift cards from the participating establishments of their choice. The Passport expires on December 31, 2023. The drawing for the gift cards will take place on January 8, 2024. 

On Monday, April 24, graduates from the DoorDash Accelerator Program and the BBAO met for fellowship and business updates and to receive their Foodie Passport booklets and stamps to kick off this campaign. “I am excited to be working with BBAO and Black-owned restaurants to help each other out,” says Tam Cao, co-owner of Bamboo House and DoorDash Accelerator Program participant.” I see how food and culture bring everybody together, and I look forward to ways we (restauranteurs) can collaborate.”    

About DoorDash: DoorDash (NYSE: DASH) is a technology company that connects consumers with their favorite local businesses in more than 25 countries across the globe. Founded in 2013, DoorDash builds products and services to help businesses innovate, grow, and reach more customers. DoorDash is building infrastructure for local commerce, enabling merchants to thrive in the convenience economy, giving consumers access to more of their communities, and providing work that empowers. With DoorDash, there is a neighborhood of good in every order. 

About Black Business Association of Oregon: The Black Business Association of Oregon (BBAO) is an economic development organization striving to achieve economic equity that is sustainable and lasting for Black-owned businesses in Oregon. For more information, visit  


Message from the Executive Director- April 2023

It Takes Everyone to Bring Sustainable Equity to Oregon 

On March 9, 2022, I had the opportunity to present the First Annual State of Oregon’s Black Economy. The event was a part of the Portland Business Alliance’s “Breakfast Forums” series sponsored by Alaska Airlines, the Portland Tribune, and U.S. Bank. The purpose of my address was to share the work the Black Business Association of Oregon has done to fulfill the objectives of the Black Economic Prosperity Agenda (BEPA), which are: 

  1. Develop a Regional Black Economic Dashboard 
  2. Develop a Regional Strategic Plan for Black Economic Prosperity 
  3. Establish a New Role and Potential Organization to do the work, including a Regional Center for Black Economic Advancement 

The forum also featured a panel of speakers discussing the importance of the BEPA and the BBAO, why equity is necessary, and how uplifting Black-owned businesses and Black residents is integral to Oregon’s overall economy. 

Leading up to my presentation, I took the opportunity to scan the room. I was elated to see the diverse audience, which consisted of people from the government, the private sector, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, religious organizations, and other ethnic communities. Seeing so many people representing the different factions of our society in attendance gave me hope that the future for Black businesses and residents in Oregon can be brighter than ever. 

Bringing true equity to Black Oregonians requires a team effort, and to be an effective team player, everyone must have a clear understanding of sustainable equity. To provide clarity, it is essential to dissect and understand the meaning of “equity” and “sustainable” as they relate to Black economic prosperity. 

The simple definition of “equity” is everyone having what they need to live a comfortable and prosperous life. However, the word is also used to acknowledge that for Black Oregonians, fairness and justice were not available to us from the start of our tenure in this state, and it is time to solve that conundrum. The simple definition of “sustainable” is something long-term that will stay in place to achieve and maintain a desired result. 

Therefore, sustainable equity is the acknowledgment and acceptance by everyone in Oregon that Black businesses and Black residents have been denied equity for far too long, and it is going to take a long-term plan not just to bring about equity but to maintain an improved level of equity for the future generations of Black Oregonians. 

As we work to bring equity that is sustainable to Black Oregonians, I am optimistic that the team that is evolving will acknowledge that the time is right to commit themselves to a long-term agenda that is long overdue. While the BEPA aims to improve the economic status of Oregon’s Black population, it will take all of us to bring the plan to fruition and maintain it going forward. 

Message From the Executive Director

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. Floyd’s murder led to worldwide protests of police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability. This event also incited a movement to bring about economic justice for Black businesses that have not been afforded ample opportunities to grow and prosper in the state of Oregon.

On June 9, 2020, Black members, and past Chairs of the Portland Business Alliance issued a call-to-action for economic justice for all Black Oregonians. The members were Sam Brooks, Janet Campbell, Andrew Colas, Alando Simpson, and Charles Wilhoite.

These change agents determined that the George Floyd murder was a clear representation of an “Invisible Knee” that has been pressed on the necks of Black Americans as an unobservable force that has prevented Black families from building, growing, and sustaining generational wealth within the state of Oregon. They insisted that if we are to achieve justice that is lasting, and durable, we must include an unapologetic Black economic resilience agenda for our region.

The very next day, June 10, 2020, the development of the Black Economic Prosperity Agenda (BEPA) began when members of the Portland Business Alliance (PBA), the largest area chamber of commerce in Oregon, came together to unite on the economic agenda that would create an inclusive economic economy for all Oregonians. In addition, a partnership agreement was reached with the National Association of Minority Contractors – Oregon Chapter (NAMC) to be the organizational steward to ensure anonymity and mission alignment.

The goals of the BEPA are:

A Regional Dashboard of Black Prosperity

The dashboard will measure key metrics that track the economic state of Black residents in the region. The dashboard will also analyze trends and produce public reports on the progress of the BEPA.

A Strategic Plan for Black Economic Prosperity

The strategic plan will use key metrics from the dashboard to develop action items to increase economic prosperity for Black business and residents in Oregon.

A Regional Center for Black Advancement

The regional center will be a facility that provides all of the necessary space and tools Black businesses, and residents need to grow and maintain intergenerational wealth. The center will have incubator space for new businesses, office space for other Black led organizations, space for networking and educational events, mentors, technical assistance experts and a community development financial institution (CDFI).

The Black Business Association of Oregon (BBAO) is an economic development organization that strives to achieve economic equity that is sustainable and lasting in the state of Oregon. It was established to fulfill the goals of the BEPA.

I am honored to serve as the initial leader to build this much needed organization that will bring partnership, progress, and prosperity to Black Americans in Oregon.


Lance Randall Executive Director

BBAO + Community Partners Treat Students to Blazers vs. Lakers Game

Last month, the BBAO, the University of Oregon, the UO Black Alumni Network, and the Portland Trailblazers invited 40 of UO’s Black Cultural Center students to Portland for food, fun, fellowship. . .and the game.

The short programming consisted of catered food, Lance (Executive Director) welcoming the students and giving them a quick background of BBAO, and services, offering support on how to start their careers in Portland, and why Portland is a place where Black students can thrive. Wrapping the event up, Sarah Kutten (UO) spoke briefly about the Portland Internship Experience, followed by remarks from the UO Black Alumni Network President, Ericka Warren.

With full stomachs and trash-talking to some of the brave students (and community members) who wore Laker jerseys, a Blazer staff member arrived to lead the group down to their seats just before the game began. All in all, this event was a great success!

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