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Committee Seeks To Help Marginalized Communities Build Wealth In West Palm Beach

Leontyne Brown.jpg
Leontyne Brown
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Leontyne Brown is a businesswoman, marketing executive, and member of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County.

Leontyne Brown says a "low living wage" is a major impediment to those goals, creating a negative domino effect in Black and Hispanic communities.

West Palm Beach's task force on racial and ethnic equality is in the middle of a community outreach effort, as the task force looks for solutions to socioeconomic disparities — particularly those impacting marginalized communities.

The finance, banking and business subcommittee — with members representing one of five focus areas — is in the early stages of identifying those issues and creating recommendations for the West Palm Beach mayor and city commission.

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Leontyne Brown is a businesswoman, marketing executive, and member of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. She is the co-chair of the task force's business subcommittee and says establishing and sustaining business and homeownership is the fastest way to build wealth for marginalized communities — especially for Black families.

But Brown says a "low living wage" is a major impediment to those goals, creating a negative domino effect in those communities.

"It [low wages] may lead you to you having subpar or less access to health insurance," Brown said. "Your income may determine your access to education or supplemental education for your child or even for yourself."

Brown says Black and Hispanic women in the city, for example, earn a median hourly wage of around $13 dollars per hour. White women earn around $27 per hour.

The committee has included publicly available data on its dedicated website and, according to their data, "for every 100 white workers, 60 own a business, for every 100 Latino workers, 44 own a business" and "for every 100 African American workers, 28 own a business."

Financial literacy, business opportunities, and addressing housing discrimination are just as important as the observable data on disparities, Brown says, adding that the business community should play as significant a role in finding solutions as residents.

West Palm Beach residents previously expressed concerns about economic inequities at a city-led town hall summit.

Brown says, ahead of another town hall meeting in June, the committee is seeking success stories and operational lessons from small business owners to supplement the committee's findings.