TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A local directory service is making the search for Black-owned businesses in Tampa Bay a little bit easier.
Hillary VanDyke and her colleague Joshua Bean are school teachers in Pinellas County. The two wanted to get more involved in the community and wanted a way to help increase the black dollar.
“One thing we became really passionate about is how do we build economic vitality in the black community,” VanDyke said.
After giving it a lot of thought, the two created ‘The Green Book of Tampa Bay.’ It’s a search engine that helps people find black owned businesses throughout Tampa Bay.
The name comes from the Negro Motorist Travel Guide. It once helped Black families safely travel through the United States during the Jim Crow era.
“The history of it sad because it was them trying to stay alive in a Jim Crow America, but to us we are trying to reclaim that name and use it in a positive light to help people be intentional with their money as they spend money at black owned businesses,” Vandyke said.
The site features more than 500 Black owned businesses across the Bay. It includes various businesses like restaurants, barbershops, entertainment, real estate and more. One restaurant featured is Red’s BBQ in St. Petersburg. Head Chef, Joshua Jackson, believes a search engine spotlighting black owned businesses was long overdue.
“They were hidden and in the shadows so I think it’s time for the greatness that black owned businesses have to finally get the time to shine,” Jackson said. “Just like how you would go to google and find businesses around you, now you can do it to find black owned businesses around you and I feel like we need that.”
It’s all thanks to two visionaries, who are doing it For the Culture.
“The Green Book of Tampa Bay is here to help you put your green into black,” VanDyke said.
VanDyke and Bean encourage all black entrepreneurs to add their business to the site. Head to their website to join the directory service.