By Taryn Skees for Amplify — September 3, 2021
Born and raised in Louisville, Aaron Jordan had his first taste of the entrepreneurial world while working on his senior project in a course at Tennessee State University. Aaron went on to graduate with a BS in Integrated Marketing and Communications and spent time traveling and working in various cities including Atlanta, Nashville and New York building a background in entertainment, music and activism.
In 2016 Aaron was inspired to develop a co-working space. As he pivoted as a frontline organizer and activist, he realized there was a unique need for a space that addressed the equity disparities for black professionals, entrepreneurs and founders. Black Complex officially launched in 2020.
“I wanted to build a community of like-minded individuals, and a place for relevant and fun but intentional events and programming,” said Jordan. Black Complex is designed to be a hub for connection and is uniquely positioned to build the future of what community looks like.
Since it opened, Black Complex has hosted professional development events, tech training, live performances and more that are uniquely tailored to the Black community. Notable events include:
- People’s Empowerment Brunch – held in March 2021, the brunch brought together community leaders and activists to honor Breonna Taylor. It featured speakers like former UofL basketball player Angel McCoughtry (now playing in the WNBA for the Las Vegas Aces), who championed the WNBA to put Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys.
- Juneteenth Festival – a holiday celebrated on 19 June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US, this jubilee spanned 4 days and included over 30 black owned business vendors, entertainment, giveaways and more.
- Black Business and Bourbon – an evening of connection with Black businesses and professionals to dine and taste bourbon. This inclusive event is designed to remove access barriers that prevent Black founders from developing sustainable business relationships with one another as well as other professionals in the ecosystem. September 30, 2021 — BUY TICKETS NOW!
Developing an in-person networking business in the midst of the pandemic definitely brought about unique challenges. Event and programming restrictions and changing guidance meant Aaron had to remain flexible and extremely motivated. But as many entrepreneurs know, there are other hurdles in getting a business up and running.
“Finding funding can defintely be a challenge. Many people would make verbal commitments or show interest, but then never follow through,” Jordan said. Additionally he noted that building stakeholder relationships, being taken seriously and removing access barriers also impacted his journey.
With the help of a large financial boost received last year from Gill and Augusta Holland, who pledged up to $50,000 in matching funds, Jordan hopes to continue the momentum that Black Complex has been able to establish. His main objectives are to build a strong membership base to support the sustainability of the business, solidify existing relationships and eventually expand Black Complex into other markets.