Decline In Yellow Springs Black Businesses May Be Linked To Wider Trends

Apr 16, 2018

The number of African American-owned businesses has fallen sharply in Yellow Springs from its peak four decades ago. Only a handful remain in the village.
Credit Jess Mador / WYSO

The number of African American-owned businesses has fallen sharply in Yellow Springs from its peak four decades ago. Only a handful remain in the village.

Antioch College History Professor Kevin McGruder credits some of the shift to rising college-graduation rates among many blacks in Yellow Springs.

"So, as black people have had access to more college they seek more opportunities and jobs they can get with those degrees than in opening up a store," McGruder says.

A recent Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio report, "The State of Black Dayton: Opportunities Lost," finds African Americans continue to lag behind whites in the Miami Valley when it comes to wages and access to financing.

"Obtaining capital can be challenging for almost anyone with dreams of starting a business. But black citizens looking to open a business can face additional barriers, such as lack of entrepreneurial role models and little or no access to people who can open doors and provide resources, information and advice. The gap is wide," the report continues.

Data from 2016 show black-owned businesses also typically have less access to credit.

Credit Yellow Springs Toy Company Facebook page

And Yellow Springs black businesses also face set of challenges linked to population decline, says McGruder.

"When you have large numbers of black people living in a place," he says, "it's more likely that you're going to get a few people who want to open businesses. And when you have fewer, you don't.

Yellow Springs’ African American population in the 1970’s was around 30 percent. The most recent Census Bureau American Community Survey data show that figure has since dropped by more than half.

Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Wintrow points to the recently opened Yellow Springs Toy Company, owned by marketing professional Jamie Sharp.