Minority chamber forms to fill niche

Posted Monday, Jul. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Mansfield Minority Chamber of Commerce meets from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at Hampton Inn & Suites, 1640 U.S. 287. For more information, call (682) 730-0104 or go to www.mansfieldmcc.org.

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Marcelle Petry wishes she and her husband had had a group like the Mansfield Minority Chamber of Commerce when she started her business in 2007. That’s why they co-founded the group last fall.

“There is a desire for more mentorship,” said Petry, who owns Healthy Body Chiropractic with her husband, Eric. “I was the first in my family to get married. I didn’t anticipate what was ahead. A lot of business owners feel the same way. Even though they have a grasp on their business and customers, there are things that they don’t know that can come up.

“Those of us who have been through it can shine a light,” she said.

But since Mansfield already has a chamber of commerce, was there really a need for another? Shyra Smith wondered the same thing.

“A focus group surveyed to see if people were interested in doing something like that,” said Smith, a management consultant the Petrys contacted to help form the group. “The demand was overwhelming. We were blown away.”

The need is also pointed out in that minority businesses fail at a higher rate, Eric Petry said.

“We’re trying to fill the gap and support their effort,” he said.

The Petrys, along with Shyra and Howard Smith, formed the non-profit in October and began holding monthly networking events in April. So far, the group has about a dozen members from Mansfield, Arlington, Fort Worth and Midlothian, but another dozen people are attending meetings and showing interest.

Being a business owner is difficult, the founding members point out. The new minority chamber helps in different ways.

“We can help with personal and professional development, how to grow their business,” Smith said. “We can help them with roadblocks people have faced in building their businesses, retirement and security. A lot of people are afraid to become entrepreneurs. We get people to come and share.”

Marcelle Petry wants to help people maintain their personal life while they are building their business, too.

“Because a business owner has to be so hands on , the family can fall in the background,” she said.

Her husband hopes to help minority businesses make a larger impact on the community.

“There’s not enough participation by minority-owned businesses in helping build tax revenues,” Eric Petry said. “We want to ensure the minority community is participating in local commerce and doing their part to build the tax base.”

Mansfield Realtor Johnnie Morine has been in business for decades, but he has already seen a benefit from being a member of the minority chamber.

“Any time you put into the minority chamber you benefit,” Morine said. “I’ve had a couple of sales already and I’ve used people in the chamber to do business as well, for landscaping and painting.”

Despite its name, the Mansfield Minority Chamber of Commerce is open to all ethnicities, Smith said.

“We wanted everyone to feel comfortable,” she said. “We are looking at getting with the (Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce). We need to bring awareness that we have businesses right here. You don’t have to go to Arlington.”

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM

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