Black Business Expo to highlight entrepreneurs of color in Rock County

Uptown

JANESVILLE, Wis. – A Black Business Expo is one of a number of things coming to Uptown Janesville (Formerly Janesville Mall) to highlight and advance the careers of Black entrepreneurs.

The expo, which will feature more than a dozen Black business owners, will begin Saturday July 10 and continue every other Saturday throughout the fall.

In addition, 14 black business owners will combine to share a storefront this fall.

There’s going to be everything from gift shops, to all natural skin care products, things like that,” said Genia Stevens, Founder of Rock County Jumpstart. “They’re really just working together to figure it out. It’s amazing to see it happening.”

Stevens founded Rock County Jumpstart in 2019, and has since worked to make events like the expo possible.

Rock county jumpstart is an incubator and accelerator for black business owners in the Rock County area,” she said. “One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do is provide a space, find a space for our business owners to be able to come out of the basement, come out of the kitchen, come off of the porch, and have a regular place to be able to sell their products and services, introduce themselves to their customers on a very regular basis.”

Stevens has also worked to help permanent storefronts for Black business owners who are ready for the challenge. 

I was contacted by Genia and the management of the mall saying ‘Hey, we have an opportunity to maybe come in, rent one of our kiosks, and sell your products,'” said Tennisha Loggins, who owns Snacks & Stuff Truck in Beloit. “I thought it was awesome, because with a mobile truck, it is hard to find different locations that you would like to be and that people don’t mind you to be.”

Loggins says she will move into a permanent location at Uptown Janesville on September 1.

I feel like I feel more passionate about talking with other business owners than I do for myself,” Stevens said. “It just feels extremely amazing. As I watch these business owners grow and I watch them do great things, I feel like I’m a cheerleader cheering for them.”

Stevens says any business owner interested in the help and advice Rock County Jumpstart can provide is welcome to get connected. A link to the Jumpstart website can be found here.