Bigger in Texas: How Black Expo Founder Creates Path to Building Wealth
The first year Jerome D. Love hosted the Texas Black Expo, he ended up $100,000 in the hole. As a young graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a new degree on his resume, Love was brazened, and nothing was going to stop him from bringing his bold ideas to life. Two decades later, he now has a track record of success as a real estate investor, sought after speaker, author and the producer of the largest Black business tradeshow in the southeastern United States.
The Texas Black Expo is an annual four-day trade show and business conference that connects Black businesses owners with potential customers, partners and investors. It also provides a platform for entrepreneurs to learn about the latest trends and network with other business leaders. Inspired by the Indiana Black Expo, Love has taken the event from a few hundred attendees to tens of thousands each year, contributing millions of dollars in economic activity for the Houston area.
In addition to the actual trade show, the Expo also features educational sessions for youth and teens, workshops on various business topics for aspiring and new entrepreneurs, social events and its flagship event, a corporate luncheon featuring a well-known businessperson. This year’s keynote speaker is NBA Hall of Famer and business icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“We are ecstatic to have someone of Magic Johnson’s caliber supporting this event by speaking to attendees at the 20th anniversary of the Texas Black Expo,” Love said. “His life is a masterclass in resilience, ingenuity, tenacity and faith – all the characteristics necessary to be successful in business.”
Hosting the Texas Black Expo each year brings a level of personal satisfaction for Love, but it’s the knowledge that he’s fulfilling what he believes is a calling from God that keeps him going. His goal is to educate and empower Black business owners so they can not only contribute to their communities but also build generational wealth.
“It’s my belief that economic prosperity creates awesome communities, and what better way to create those awesome communities than through entrepreneurship? No one is coming to save us, so as African Americans, we have to strengthen ourselves. We have more opportunities now to build wealth than we have ever had, and I created a Black business tradeshow to make sure we don’t get left behind,” Love said.
The Texas Black Expo, which operates as a non-profit organization, offers programming year-round. When Hurricane Harvey ravaged the greater Houston area, TBE gave emergency micro-grants to business owners to help them stay afloat. Similarly, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he developed the We All Eat program, which helped local restaurants stay in business while providing free meals to families in need. That program alone was funded at a rate of over $10 million. A summer business camp for teens, free business consulting for start-ups, a pitch competition, college scholarships, a podcast and many other initiatives demonstrate the effectiveness of a person with a grand vision and faith to execute it.
“Honestly, I’m not special. I believe anyone can accomplish what I’ve accomplished, especially if you have faith in God and yourself, and you’re willing to brings others along for the ride,” Love said. “Working together is the best way for us to move the needle and lessen the wealth gap for Black people in this country.”
For more information about the Texas Black Expo, visit www.tbesummercelebration.com.