First Thursday aims at helping minority businesses

Group aims to give businesses more networking power


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local entrepreneur Larry Williams told Channel 4 Thursday that he wants to grow minority-owned businesses in Jacksonville and in order to do that, Williams started a networking group called First Thursday.

The idea behind First Thursday is to give minority-owned businesses more networking power. Williams said many minority-owned businesses in Jacksonville are not maximizing their potential advertising through growing technology.

"Our businesses -- 60 percent of them -- don't have an Internet presence. Here in Duval County, in the United States, but specifically here," said Williams.

Williams first launched First Thursday 10 years ago in Seattle when he realized that minority businesses were not promoting themselves properly. Williams told Channel 4 that he now wants to change the way minority-owned businesses network themselves in the river city.

"We talk about the economy. How we can strengthen our businesses -- business-to-business mentoring. We bring in the CEOs of some of these companies here," said Williams.

Barber shop owner Ezekiel Thomas attended the first meeting of the group Thursday night. Thomas owns Citadel Barber Salon, off Lem Turner Road and said business is good, but he is always looking for ways to improve it.

"I think it's good because a lot of businesses don't have the knowledge or the ability from a marketing perspective," said Thomas.

Williams said the group is for anyone, but does focus on helping minority businesses. Right now, the Jacksonville group has 20 members.

Councilman Jim Love told Channel 4 Thursday night that he is excited about the program and that he recently became a member of First Thursday.

For more information on First Thursday, click here.