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Black entrepreneurs in Southwest Florida see wave of support during movement

Many community members in the United States are putting their time and money into helping black-owned businesses. This is in direct response to protests taking place across the nation, calling for racial equality and justice for George Floyd after his death in Minneapolis police custody.

We spoke to entrepreneurs in Southwest Florida about how business has been, as the state begins to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic and amid the current George Floyd protests.

These are black-owned businesses in the region, and the owners explained why they appreciate the support while also explaining their thoughts about the reasons behind the new support.

At Jonesez BBQ’s Pine Island Road location, you won’t find one person with their hands empty. Andre Jones and his wife Vickie own the popular food truck. Like many businesses in the region, they too are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For us, it’s been a lot slower,” Andre said. “As far as our products that we use, the meat and everything, that’s been coming by a little tough. They’ve been limiting us big time.”

But, fortunately for Jonesez BBQ, it’s picking back up.

With the protests and movements surrounding racial inequality, black-owned businesses have received an overwhelming amount of support on social media.

Designer Peter Jean Marie started his men’s and womenswear line less than 5 years ago. He says he’s happy with all the support, but also has other thoughts too.

“I feel that business should be about more than color,” Marie said. “It should be about the customers. It should be about making everyone else feel invited and welcome, and that’s what Peter Jean Marie is.

Marie says, since the pandemic, he’s gotten attention from Dillard’s and rapper T.I.

Jonesez BBQ has donated hundreds of meals to local nonprofit during the pandemic.

Jonesez BBQ agrees with Marie’s feelings of appreciation for support while also wanting that support to come from a place of equality.

“We always feel that, if you’ve got a good business and a good product, you would hope that the public would receive you as such,” Andre said.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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