By Ryan Velez
2017 has been quite the year, but even among all the cultural, political, and social storms going on, there have been some great victories for Black business. Black Enterprise profiles some of the biggest business moments of 2017.
One major moment was a major loss, with Lowell Hawthorne, founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, killing himself inside his Bronx factory. Here is some of our previous coverage:
“Family friend Wayne Muschamb said what a loss this was not only for the company, but for the Jamaican community. “Look how far he reached. He’s known from here to Jamaica,” Muschamb said. “I’m kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked.”
According to the company website, Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the U.S. to be granted a franchise license, according to its website. The company produces more than 50 million patties a year that are sold in retail stores. Hawthorne also published a memoir, The Baker’s Son, in 2012. “It’s a very humbling experience to know that the concept that began in Jamaica with our parents was able to come here,” Hawthorne told the Daily News at the time.”
However, as there is loss, there is also new life, with a Black-owned investment company stepping in to redevelop South Central L.A. “ Chicago-based Capri Investment Group will spend $700 million to restore and expand the historic shopping plaza, which has been dubbed “America’s oldest urban regional mall,” by Black Enterprise.
This lucrative mixed-use project will include an additional 961 condos and apartments, a new 400-room hotel, a 10-story office building, new retail shops and eateries. The project will also triple the plaza’s size to over 3 million square feet. At the moment, a final approval from the Los Angeles City Council is needed.”
Some unexpected names threw their hats in the business arena this year, like Ray J, who closed a $31 million deal to launch Raycon with partner Cowboy Wholesale. “At the moment, Raycon’s signature product is the Scoot-E-Bike, its foldable, two-wheeled electric vehicle. The bike was presented to a mass network of influencers, which allowed it to gain a good amount of traction in the market.
Raycon promises to extend the vision that Ray J initially had when he started the company. This is providing more high-demand electronics designed and supported by celebrities, catered towards urban technophiles looking to be at the front of trends. A key area of focus is electric transportation, which could make a big impact in some communities.
“The world is moving towards renewable green energy, and electric transportation is a big part of that. With the Raycon movement, we are going to make sure we are one of the first ones there,” said Ray J in the press report.”