PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Black-owned business leaders are meeting to discuss the state of Oregon’s Black economy in a forum Thursday in Portland.

Moderated by KOIN 6 News’ Ken Boddie, the event will explore issues and solutions to future business growth.

The event comes after some small businesses struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We noticed, because of the pandemic, a lot of Black-owned businesses really struggle and there are a lot of Black people in the state, in general, who lost their job and decided to be entrepreneurs,” said Lance Randall, executive director of the Black Business Association of Oregon.

He added, “what we’re trying to do is retain businesses that stayed in place throughout the pandemic, and we also want to help those entrepreneurs who have just decided to start their own businesses.”

Randall encourages community members to patronize Black-owned businesses and recommend them to friends and family.

“We have great businesses with good products and services, they’re very competitive when it comes to pricing and I think that if we take time to do a little research and see what Black business we have in the state and what they do, we’d be very pleased with what we get from these businesses,” Randall said.

The executive director emphasized support is needed by all community members to bolster Black-owned businesses.

“This effort is just not for Black people to try to do themselves. We need everyone around the state of all backgrounds, all ethnic groups to help us with this effort to grow Black businesses because we want to be partners, we want to be contributors and we want to create jobs. We just want to be an integral part of the economy.”