Diverse Business Directory Supports Local Work

Supporting diverse businesses in Lane County has never been easier

In 2020, Lane County created a Local Black-Owned Business Directory in response to “the racial awakening that was taking place worldwide,” says Shayna Higashi, the county’s equity program analyst.

In November 2023, Lane County updated the directory and debuted the Lane County Diverse Business Directory, which features 72 county businesses, adding more every month and serving as a one-stop shop for supporting local entrepreneurs.

The Diverse Business Directory builds and expands upon the concept that created the Black-owned business directory, Higashi says.

Businesses that were previously featured on the Local Black-Owned Business Directory have been asked to resubmit their businesses to the Diverse Business Directory, Higashi says, to continue giving business owners the choice of whether they are featured. 

This choice to opt-in is partially due to “the heightened visibility and how this may make businesses susceptible to being targeted by specific groups,” Higashi says. It’s also to ensure that everyone who wants to participate can, says Devon Ashbridge, Lane County public information officer.

“We did not want to limit participation to just what we know about or what we’re able to discover through our channels,” Ashbridge says, “because we know we would miss businesses and miss folks that would want to participate.”

The directory now features 10 diverse identities, and business owners can select multiple options based on how they self-identify. The identities include Asian-owned, Black-owned, Indigenous-owned, Latino/a/e/x-owned, LGBTQIA2S-owned, Pacific Islander-owned, person with disability-owned, veteran-owned, women-owned and other.

“There’s an ‘other’ category that some people can also select, and so we also recognize that maybe there’s other things we didn’t consider,” Higashi says. “We’re also using that as a catch-all for now to see if there’s other identities that should be considered in the future to expand upon.”

There has been no indication that anyone has misused the self-submitting system by entering businesses that are not theirs, Ashbridge says, but the program relies on people using the directory respectfully.

“I think the tricky part for us, again, goes back to how dare we judge how people identify. That can be a very difficult position to be in,” Ashbridge says. “But so far what we’ve experienced is folks embracing the directory.”

Higashi says she hopes that Lane County residents use the directory to support diverse businesses during celebratory months, such as prioritizing support for Black-owned businesses in February and women-owned businesses in March.

“We know that this dashboard isn’t going to repair centuries of wealth disparities,” says Latiffe Amado, Lane County’s equity manager. “We want organizations to be able to think about the ways that they can contribute to that evolution in ways that are going to be way more economically impactful than the directory itself.”

New submissions are added to the database on the first of every month. The Diverse Business Directory features 21 Eugene-based, Black-owned businesses as of press time.

Visit LaneCountyOR.gov/DBD to view the database.

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