The actions of Erie’s black business owners have shown their true purpose — advancing the black community.

“You can curate the world around you, and in order to do that, you have to be a part of the world around you,” said Angelica Spraggins, co-founder, of Erie’s Black Wall Street.

Erie’s Black Wall Street officially became a nonprofit in 2020 and has been working with black-owned businesses ever since. Their focus is to get exposure while helping the black community network and socialize.

The organization has close to 100 businesses on its directory and growing.

“For example, SHE Vintage, she was on Peach Street at one point, and right now she’s the only black-owned clothing store on State Street for the shops on State Street,” Spraggins added.

The owner of the popular Pineapple Eddie’s restaurant also found the passion to advance by relocating.

“We’re family-owned. We’ve been up and running for 11 years. We’ve enjoyed being in this community,” said Karen Thomas, owner of Pineapple Eddie.

“Probably the biggest challenge is getting people to know where I am located. And recognizing that I am a fully functioning, operating business,” said Lisa Heidelberg, owner and personal chef.

Heidelberg started her career as a personal chef and has expanded to a storefront located at 334 West 8th Street with full-service catering. Being an Erie native, her goal is to serve the community real food at an affordable price.

Although Chef Lisa has faced challenges throughout her career, she gave advice to young entrepreneurs.

“If you want to do it, you can do it — believe that,” Heidelberg said.

“Anybody who doesn’t know what’s going on in Erie get out and try something new,” Spraggins said. “Get comfortable with feeling comfortable. You’ll learn a lot about what’s going on.”

Spraggins added that moving forward, Erie’s Black Wall Street’s intention is to never be stagnant and to grow with what the population’s needs are.