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Closing the wealth gap means ensuring Black-owned businesses benefit from Boston’s biggest events

Deidre Montague

Banner Business sponsored by The Boston Foundation


When the NAACP National Convention came to Boston last summer, it coincided with a time of controversy for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, as there were concerns around a lack of diversity and unequal treatment of Black staff and vendors.

Despite the promise of the convention being a demonstration of how far the city has come when it comes to race relations, concerns about the lack of Black-owned businesses, as well as the ability of existing Black-owned businesses to benefit from such a large national convening were things the convention could potentially address.

However, less than a year later, the following questions remain: Has the number of Black-owned businesses increased? Have the existing Black-owned businesses seen added revenues that have increased their capacity?

With the recent NCAA Sweet 16 played in Boston, do the city and its Black-owned businesses still find themselves in the same condition as they were, when they headed into the 2023 NAACP Convention? And if so, what changes need to be made to make sure that Black-owned businesses are benefiting from national events that come into the city?

There are easy fixes that can go a long way. William Murrell III, owner/operator of, believes that the burden must sit with the event and production organizations.

“The production organizer must hire a DEI authority and give that person the funds to attract Blacks in Greater Boston,“ he said. He also encouraged organizations like the NCAA to spend more money with Black press, including social media.

Beyond individual organizations, commitment systems must change as well.

In an exclusive statement to the Banner, the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts said that while that organization has not seen a significant increase in businesses’ revenues following last summer’s NAACP Convention, they are acting “as a convener to facilitate conversations.”

“In February 2024, BECMA hosted Mass. Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao on a tour of BECMA members that could be hired for large-scale events,” BECMA said in the statement. “Privé Parking provided transportation and we visited businesses in Dorchester and Mattapan including Studio 24 Graphix and Printing, Cafe Juice Up, and RoseMark Production. Privé Parking and RoseMark Production were contracted for the NAACP Convention but have not been hired for a similar contract since.”

RoseMark Production and Privé Parking are both BECMA members.

“RoseMark Production secured a contract working on the NAACP Convention last July. BECMA hired the firm for our Mass Black Expo last October and is working with them once again for our upcoming Mass Black Expo October 25-26. However, outside the NAACP Convention and Mass Black Expo, RoseMark has only been hired for a Massachusetts event one other time and secures much of their work out of the state,” the organization said.

“Privé Parking was also awarded a contract providing transportation for the NAACP Convention last summer, but has also experienced challenges securing large contracts before and since,” the statement said.

The organization also indicated that it regularly provides letters of support, advocates for Black vendors to secure public and private contracts, prioritizes using Black vendors for its hosted events and provide procurement sponsorships for partner events to make sure that other organizations hire Black providers of goods and services.

In order for Boston to close the wealth gap, all communities have to benefit from windfalls like the NCAA tournament. It’s hard to get excited about something you’re economically excluded from.