Axne zooms with black business owners at Wednesday round table

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Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) hosted a virtual roundtable Wednesday afternoon with Small Business Administration (SBA) District Director Jayne Armstrong and some 20 Black business owners and nonprofit directors from Iowa’s Third Congressional District.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) hosted a virtual roundtable Wednesday afternoon with Small Business Administration (SBA) District Director Jayne Armstrong and some 20 black business owners and nonprofit directors from Iowa’s Third Congressional District.

The hour-long roundtable discussion gave business owners and community leaders an opportunity to talk about how they have kept their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they plan to navigate the months ahead.

Axne opened the discussion with an update on new COVID-19 relief legislation that is expected to pass the House next week. Armstrong updated the business owners and community leaders on recovery resources available to black-owned businesses.

The general discussion was started by Teree Caldwell-Johnson, a member of the Des Moines Public School Board and chair of the Directors Council, a coalition of community leaders dedicated to improving the conditions of people in the Des Moines neighborhoods.

The roundtable was be attended by the following:

  • Dana James, Founder of Black Iowa News – Des Moines
  • Stoy Hall, CEO/Founder of Black Mammoth Financial Planning – West Des Moines
  • Deidre DeJear, Founder of Caleo Enterprises – Des Moines
  • State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, Founder of Creative Visions Human Development Institute – Des Moines
  • Teree Caldwell-Johnson, Chair of The Directors Council and CEO of Oakridge Neighborhood Services – Des Moines
  • Kameron Middlebrooks, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Minority Business Coordinator for African and African American small businesses and nonprofits – Des Moines
  • Fred Buie, President of Keystone Electrical Manufacturing and current Chair of Greater Des Moines Partnership Board – Des Moines
  • Matt Gilbert, Esq., Attorney at law and Executive Consultant at MRG International business consulting – Des Moines
  • Exodus Bargblor, Owner/CEO of Stylent Brands clothing – West Des Moines
  • Jeremiah Johnson, Stylent Brands clothing – West Des Moines
  • Elijah Muhammad, Owner of Unorthodox Fitness Gym and Crossfit athlete – Grimes
  • Izaah Knox, Executive Director or Urban Dreams nonprofit – Des Moines
  • Dwana Bradley, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Urban Experience Magazine – Des Moines
  • Marquas “MarKaus” Ashworth, Owner of Ziyad Rye Spirits and hip-hop artist – Des Moines 
  • LaTonya Shook, Licensed Massage Therapist and CEO of the Zone of Comfort wellness/therapeutic massage center – Urbandale
  • Lu Spaine, Owner/Operator of Zumi Women’s Clothing and Home Décor store – Des Moines
  • Jayne Armstrong, Iowa Small Business Administration Director – Des Moines
  • Lori Hackney, Iowa Small Business Administration team – Des Moines
  • Dawnelle Conley, Iowa Small Business Administration team – Des Moines
  • Meg Schneider, Senior Vice President of Business Resources and Community Development for the Greater Des Moines Partnership – Des Moines

The meeting broke up a few minutes early when Axne was called into votes on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, but she encouraged attendees to stay in touch with her office and with Armstrong as the Iowa economy recovers.

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