The organizations at the Devoyd Jennings Business Assistance Center (BAC) are coming together to celebrate the BAC’s legendary namesake and unveil new signage that speaks to his lasting legacy in Fort Worth.
The event will take place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 4, on the James E. Guinn Entrepreneurial Campus. The Devoyd Jennings Business Assistance Center – also known as the “BAC” – is located at 1150 South Freeway.
The event is free and open to the public. Light bites will be provided. Remarks celebrating Dee and his legacy will begin promptly at 1 p.m.
Following the program, guests are invited to stay and attend a campus-wide open house as part of National Small Business Week (April 30 – May 6) to showcase the number of organizations available on-site to provide support to Fort Worth’s small business and entrepreneur community.
A long history of service to the community
The James E. Guinn School was originally one of the first African American schools in Fort Worth. The main brick school building, designed by Sanguinet and Staats, served as an elementary school, with a nearby gymnasium and an intermediate school added to the campus in future years. The school closed in 1980 after sixty-three years of service, and the campus became the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center soon afterwards in 1995.
Today, the James E. Guinn Entrepreneurial Campus is home to a number of organizations and support services for Fort Worth’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. Two of the buildings on campus are home to Accelerate Fort Worth and TechFW, along with several of their clients and start-ups.
The third building serves as the offices for the City of Fort Worth Economic Development Department, the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce (FWMBCC), Southeast Fort Worth Inc., Tarrant County Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Fort Worth, and several small business lending and support organizations.
It was also the workplace for many years of Devoyd “Dee” Jennings, who served as the Board Chairman of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce and spent more than 30 years as the organization’s president and CEO.
Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1947, Dee developed deep roots after arriving in Fort Worth. He grew up in the Butler Place public housing community, graduated from I.M. Terrell High School, and attended Tarrant County College and Texas Wesleyan University before emerging as a visionary local leader. In addition to his work with the FWMBCC, Dee served on numerous boards, committees and commissions throughout his life and was a passionate advocate for Fort Worth’s Black neighborhoods and Black-owned businesses, both publicly and behind-the-scenes.
His mentorship and dedication to Fort Worth had a profound impact on many leaders in the local business community, and that legacy of service will live on through the Devoyd Jennings Business Assistance Center.