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Syracuse Speaks-Downtown Syracuse sees increase in Black women-owned businesses

A woman is on the left of the frame across from a young man in tie-dye sweatshirt. They are divided by a white counter.
Isaiah Vazquez/Isaiah Vazquez/WAER
Dreamer Glen, owner of Miss Prissy’s, sells food to a customer at the Salt City food market. Miss Prissy’s storefront is located within Salt City Market. (Isaiah Vazquez/WAER)

The Downtown Committee of Syracuse sent out a survey last spring to find out more about demographic mix of business owners in the city's center. 106 of 163 people responded. The Downtown Committee learned that over the last five years, women of color are making up an increasing share of new businesses in downtown Syracuse.

In fact, women of color made up 33% of new businesses opened in downtown Syracuse in 2022. And Syracuse isn’t alone in this trend. According to JPMorgan Insights, Black women are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the US.

On this episode of Syracuse Speaks, we speak with three Black women who own businesses in downtown Syracuse about what drove them to entrepreneurship, what its like having a space downtown, and what challenges remain for entrepreneurs of color.

Joining us for this discussion is:

  • Cha McCoy, owner of the Communion Wine and Spirits Shop, founder of Cha Squared Hospitality & Consulting, and sommelier
  • Cjala Surratt, owner of the Black Citizens Brigade and co-founder of the Central New York Black Artist Collective
  • And Dreamer Glen, owner of Miss Prissy’s and Grantee of the James Beard Foundation Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans

Have an idea for Syracuse Speaks? Contact our executive producer Kevin Kloss (

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.