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Building Business movement looks to uplift small minority-owned businesses

Toledoan Rashawn McDonald is building a community of small businesses to help each other thrive and grow as one.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Starting a business is always a risk. That's what people usually say. But it's even more difficult for those in the minority community.

Many new businesses opened to an uncertain world this past year with the pandemic. So one Toledo food business owner started a grassroots movement to help other businesses succeed.

Rashawn McDonald Sr. has been hustling to make his own business successful. He owns Glaze 'Em Gourmet Funnel Cakes and is doing quite well since switching to a fully equipped food trailer, but he felt the need to help others who were just trying to do the same.

"Sometimes it's not about money, it's about knowledge. And if you can get the proper knowledge, you can go to the next level," said McDonald.

So he started the Building Business movement to create a network of other like-minded small businesses in Toledo that are looking to grow.

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"We just try to work with one another. Get you licensed or insured or whatever it is you needed, whether it was you're a transient or LLC," said McDonald. "We're just trying to build up small businesses and anyone that wants to be part of this movement."

He helped organize the first Chicken Wars competition at the Toledo Farmer's Market on Sunday. It was an effort to bring together local food truck owners for a fun competition and to show that they can do better together.

McDonald stressed that he values diversity because of how he was brought up in a household with a white dad, black mom, and, now, a wife from Central America. He believes minority businesses are targeted in different ways such as leasing locations and loans.

"When you're being stopped and denied and typically because of our skin color at times we get slowed down in the process," said McDonald. "Some things have been sped up but it's a lot of red tape."

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Nicole Crawford creates custom tumblers, t-shirts and more as part of her small business, NLC Creations. She says she always wanted to be her own boss but no one showed her how when she was growing up.

"We have a different economic background that we grow up in,"  said Crawford. "So basically getting funding and getting started and having different outlets to showcase our businesses."

Crawford says four years in, she's exactly where she wants to be with her business. And she wants young people coming up to know they can do it too. But she also emphasized to not be afraid to look for help.

"If we stick together we can then build wealth in our community," said Crawford, "and grow from there. The only way we're going to build is by building it ourselves."

McDonald plans on bringing businesses together again on September 5 at the Toledo Farmer's Market for Taco Night.