Are you a current or potential business owner seeking to grow your business or in need of visibility and support? Are you a resident of Southern Dallas and want to grow, connect and invest in your community? You will be astonished at what the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce offers and can do for you! The chamber is perfectly seated near the Bishop Arts District, one of Oak Cliff’s most renowned and growing entertainment areas and is dedicated to serving Southern Dallas. From networking connections and business resources to workforce development and community investment, Kiyundra Jones, the first woman and African American president of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, will share how the chamber has evolved and is a pivotal resource to the community.
SDM – You were appointed to the prestigious role of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce president in 2014 after serving as the chief operations officer. How has the Chamber evolved?
Kiyundra – I have been with the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce since 2007. Initially, the Chamber was real estate development focused. In 2014, I was promoted to president after the retirement of my predecessor, Bob Stimson. Since then, the Oak Cliff Chamber has evolved in many ways, some of which include being more focused on building and stabilizing individual small businesses versus corporations and being intentional about creating programming for the entire Oak Cliff region versus just North Oak Cliff.
SDM – The Oak Cliff Chamber is deeply invested in the growth of businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as the quality of life of the community. Can you expound on the wealth of resources offered?
Kiyundra – There are many resources offered to members and the overall community by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce.
The “Taste of Oak Cliff” is an event designed to showcase Oak Cliff businesses.
“Business University” is a multi-week incubator program for entrepreneurs created to stabilize, strengthen, and encourage growth. By design, this curriculum partners with The Business Therapy Firm, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Husch Blackwell to individually snapshot each business’ strengths and weaknesses. This approach is meant to administer customized, fundamental, as well as financial and legal resources. There are 3 different tracks available to members: Start Up Business (Just starting), New Business (Less than one year) and Tenured Business (Several years in existence).
“The Exchange” is a monthly after-hours networking event to encourage businesses to meet with like-minded professionals. “Coffee and Commerce” is a monthly early morning networking event to encourage businesses to meet with like-minded professionals.
“Business Summits” are annual summits designed to educate the community in the following areas: legislative, transportation, mobility and healthcare. There also committees focused on education, transportation and mobility, quality of life, public policy and economic development.
SDM – Who can become a member and what are the top benefits of membership?
Kiyundra – There are many misconceptions about who can and can’t join the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce. The reality is anyone who wants to do business in the geographic area of
Oak Cliff can become a member. Our benefits include business education and networking with like-minded business owners. In addition, members gain knowledge of the community and the movers and shakers, as well as having a “seat at the table”, with the ability to make decisions both politically and for the community.
SDM – The Taste of Oak Cliff recently took place in September and highlights area restaurants, breweries, businesses, and artists with approximately 20,000 attendees. How long has the Taste of Oak Cliff been in existence and how did this concept originate?
Kiyundra – The Taste of Oak Cliff just celebrated its third year in existence and is a unique concept to us. You see, Oak Cliff has many challenges. Some of which are the misconceptions of businesses, its people, and crime. This event was created to offset some of those misguided theories. Oak Cliff is a beautiful area, with amazing businesses and a true sense of community. Those who live here take pride in knowing that. We want to share that overall sentiment with the rest of the world by giving a sampling, or a “Taste of Oak Cliff”.
SDM – The Chamber is committed to the community and the connection of resources, such as Methodist Mammography participating in the Taste of Oak Cliff. How is the Oak Cliff Works program bridging the gap between residents and workforce training programs to attain higher paying jobs?
Kiyundra – The Oak Cliff Chamber is committed to providing a skilled workforce and is the only chamber that has an active program doing so. Our poverty alleviation program, Oak Cliff Works, is a workforce development program that gives the unemployed and underemployed education, coupled with career pathways to cycle participants out of poverty. The Patient Care Technician pathway partners with Methodist Hospital, Dallas College and Positive Pursuits. The Emergency Medical Technician pathway partners with EmergNow and Methodist Hospital. The Aviation pathway partners with Commemorative Air Force. Membership is not required. Visit www.oakcliffworks.org for information on becoming a student, donor or partner.
SDM – How can an individual or business get involved in the Oak Cliff Chamber’s current and future initiatives?
Kiyundra – There are many ways to get involved:
Visit: 400 S. Zang Blvd., C-59, Dallas, TX 75208;
SDM – As the first woman and African American president of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, what challenges or obstacles did you face?
Kiyundra – It has been a tremendous challenge for me in this role, being the first – the first black; the first woman; the youngest. Simply put, I did not fully understand what I was doing and was in desperate need of real mentorship. If there is anything I wish our community would learn is to embrace and mentor young, black professionals. It would make a world of difference in the life of the mentee, the mentor, and overall community! Learning curves would not be as steep, BUT, I’m grateful to be on this journey and all it has taught me. I’m better for it.
SDM – What is new or upcoming in 2023 for the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce?
Kiyundra – The Oak Cliff Chamber will continue providing the community with needed programs and overall small business education as we have done in the past, but yes, we will introduce our Leadership Oak Cliff initiative in 2023. It was created to encourage others to reimagine Oak Cliff based on facts, rather than media or rumors. This collaborative effort gives participants the opportunity to experience our beautiful community from the following perspectives: education, arts, medical, government, justice and law enforcement, transportation and economic development, media and business.
SDM – Thank you Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and President Kiyundra Jones for your steadfast dedication to serving the Oak Cliff community.