It wasn’t a long time away that entrepreneur Danny Felton was struggling to keep his businesses afloat.
He had a bought a building in Miami Gardens June 13, 2003, one month after the city was created.
“I take pride in the fact that I am the first African-American to purchase a commercial building in Miami Gardens,” Felton said.
When he was pursuing the building, he was denied several loans. On top of that, he was juggling jobs and focusing on business survival rather than growth.
Felton believes a lot of Black entrepreneurs are dealing with the same situation now.
“Focusing on survival rather than growth is one of the things African-Americans business owners deal with. When we do earn some money we are focused on staffing, overhead and just trying to stay in business for six months,” said Felton.
His latest venture involves helping other entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
He founded The Oasis, a new co-working space, which recently opened in Miami Gardens.
Felton, CEO, and president of The Oasis, said a lot of startups and home-based businesses may not have the infrastructure to scale up their business, and that’s where his business comes in. At a time when the city is experiencing an economic boom because of new businesses coming into the area, Felton wants to make sure Black people get some of the work and contracts.
“The Oasis is designed to give them what they need to participate in some of the development that is coming to the city,” Felton said.
The Oasis, which opened its doors on June 13, is located at 600 NW 183 St., in Miami Gardens. The place took six months to renovate. The building has housed Felton’s other business, The Mortgage Experts, and the office of Florida Sen. Oscar Braynon.
“Transitioning this old bicycle shop into an economic business center that houses organizations that help our community is a beautiful thing” said Felton.
Besides space, The Oasis is going to offer classes on how to run a business. Each month, starting in August, it will host first Friday workshops of three different sessions on entrepreneurship. The Oasis is also organizing a lunch-and-learn series. Every third Wednesday of the month, the co-working space will have a speaker and lunch for registered attendees. It is lining up speakers for the fall. For the first few months of both the workshop and the lunch, it will be free to the public.
“It’s in my heart that I don’t push anybody out right now. You got some businesses that have aspirations but may not be in the position up front. There are other people crying like, ‘Danny Felton saying I need a mentor; I need a bridge builder or somebody to show me what not to do,’” said Felton.
The Oasis’ name is themed as a place where you can go and grow. Felton explains that there were people who planted a seed in him and it grew in the direction of his success. Felton wants to use that same seed and plant it in others.
“I met people in my life that shook my hand and never let it go. They planted a seed in me by sharing their life experiences. Now I have to give back. I have to plant those seeds,” said Felton.