Oldest Black-Owned Business In The U.S. Honored By Small Business Association With Legacy Status

Oldest Black-Owned Business In The U.S. Honored By Small Business Association With Legacy Status

E.E. Ward Moving & Storage in Columbus, Ohio is the first recognized Black-owned business in American history. After more than140 years of service, the company was recognized by the SBA as a National Legacy Business on September 20.

The United States Small Business Association (SBA) honored E.E. Ward Moving & Storage and 67 other small businesses for their community contributions and outstanding service.

“The SBA’s Legacy Businesses all demonstrate the strength and impact of entrepreneurship and how the federal programs at the SBA fill gaps in the marketplace to ensure small businesses have the support and resources needed to start, grow, and thrive,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

“We are proud of every small business the SBA has helped in our 70-year history and are working hard in the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure they have the capital and know-how to leverage opportunities as we Invest in America so they can do what they do best: innovate, create jobs and propel our economy.”

The company was founded in 1881 with ‘two horses and a wagon’ and began as a stop on the Underground Railroad before becoming a multimillion- dollar moving corporation. The family business is now owned and operated by Brian and Dominique Brooks who are committed to upholding the legacy of founder John T. Ward. In the 1830s, Ward and his wife Catherine Ross moved to Columbus, where they ran an underground railroad helping enslaved people realize freedom.

Nearly fifty years later, Ward founded Ward Transfer Lines alongside his son, William. The business name would be changed in honor of his late son Edgar Earl years later; however, the company’s mission would remain the same.

“They went through depression, bigotry, competition, but they still made it. They weren’t the people that wanted to just get rich, it was just to take care of family,” said Dolores White, the great-great granddaughter of Ward and the oldest living member in the family’s bloodline.

For Brooks, the recipe of success for E.E. Ward Moving & Storage has been hard work and perseverance. “They just preserved through just, finding niches. It’s very important and it means a lot to me because I think about a lot of the other long-time businesses,” he said.

The company is still headquartered in Ohio but has branched out to include another location in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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