Biz Profile: Tri-Phoenix Group makes connections

If you go

What: Fourth annual Black Business Expo

When: Saturday, Aug. 17.

Where: Location is to be announced.


Last year’s event: Expo celebrates Black-owned businesses, organizations in Dubuque area


Business owners and local leaders showcased their products and services at Q Casino on Saturday as part of a weekend-long event designed to celebrate Black-owned businesses and supporters of the Black professional community.

The third annual Tri-State Black Business Expo kicked off on Friday and continues today with a picnic from noon to 6 p.m. at Jackson Park. The picnic is open to the public. Saturday’s event featured about 20 business and vendor booths, along with several speakers.

Event organizer A. Alanda Gregory, co-founder of Tri-Phoenix Group LLC, said the expo was launched in 2021 and was held for one day only for the past two years. This year, however, it was expanded to three, and the weekend’s theme was “Young, Gifted and Black.”

“I hope (attendees) make new connections and support local business owners more, see the efforts that we’re making and interact with the community,” she said. “We want people to get to know your business neighbor.”

Vendor Tika Sykes sat with her husband Evian Sykes and their three children Kayden, 8, Kanylah, 6, and Kamiyah, 5. The long table in front of the family was festooned with decorated tumblers and reusable cups, which Tika sells, along with custom-printed T-shirts, through her business, KLS Kreation.

Tika launched the business earlier this year, naming it for her children, who all have the initials “KLS.”

“I wanted to leave a foundation for my kids,” she said. “As a Black-owned business, I wanted to come out today to show my support and network while I’m here, to get my name out there more.”

Fellow vendor Roger Fisher has owned Country Charm Carpet Cleaning Service since 1997. He said the expo was a chance for local business owners to learn more about their fellow entrepreneurs.

“It gives insight as to where people are working in all these different ventures in life, which is good,” he said. “People are trying to satisfy their dreams.”

Michael Tyler-Smith displayed about 50 photos from his show “The Melanin Experience,” which features people of color and their stories.

Tyler-Smith lived in Dubuque for about three years before moving to Chicago in 2020, and was eager to return when Gregory invited him to the expo.

“This is a chance to show what I’ve created to a town that I lived in and worked from,” he said. “I get to share my progress.”

Jacqueline Hunter staffed a table representing Centering Joy Doula Service. She said she believes she is one of two African-American doulas — people who support an expectant mother through labor and birth — in Dubuque.

“This is one of the only events that is sponsored in the community that allows me to have great access to my target audience and get the message out about Black maternal health, which, in Iowa, is a critical conversation,” she said. “I’m good friends with Alanda as well, and watching her bloom and be able to bring so much of this to fruition for the Black business community is just wonderful.”

Elizabeth Kelsey writes for the Telegraph Herald.

A. Alanda Gregory has never been one to sit on the sidelines, nor rest on her laurels.

In the past two years, the 54-year-old mother of five was honored with the prestigious Iowa Governor’s Arts Award, recognizing her as an emerging arts leader.

Additionally, Gregory was named Coach of the Year for her work as a certified life coach and mentor through the Master Force Academy and was named a National Leaders of Color Fellow.

“I’ve been on this path ever since I was in high school,” Gregory said, seated behind her desk at Tri-Phoenix Group, LLC, in Dubuque’s Millwork District. “It’s very exciting to be recognized and to earn an award, but I also look at it as a way to keep perpetuating the work I’m doing.”

Originally from Chicago and calling Dubuque home for the past decade, Gregory is the co-founder and operations director of Tri-Phoenix Group, which aims to act as a business concierge service for entrepreneurs and creative professionals. It specializes in media services, strategic planning, back office support and professional networking — specifically targeting local artists.

“It’s an area that a lot of artists need help with, in terms of resources, and an area that a lot of artists don’t always like dealing with,” Gregory said. “We help with that, but also give creative professionals the tools and the know-how they need to get their work out there.”

She also is the founder of the Small Business Alliance of Dubuque — now known as the BIPOC Leader & Professional Collective — to help promote BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) business leaders in the community. And she is the creator of Dub City Radio and the BIPOC News of the Tri-State.

An event organizer, Gregory hosted the third annual Tri-State Black Business Expo in 2023 and plans are solidifying for the event’s fourth iteration in August.

Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, is a Carnegie-Stout Public Library Board Trustee, is on the Business Advisory Committee for the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce and is a staff volunteer for the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and Voices Studio.

A a life coach, Gregory has helped facilitate workshops through the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Turnt Kidz.

Her real passion is in forging connections.

“I look at myself as a people connector,” Gregory said. “When we know how to form a good connection with people, we can be better ourselves.”

That fascination, and learning how to achieve it in business, began manifesting at an early age.

“When I was a little girl, I would watch my mother work,” Gregory said. “I remember I would be sitting at my little desk with my little chalkboard and work books and copying her, saying that when I grew up, I wanted to be a boss lady.”

She also developed an appreciation for the arts, with her parents exposing her to the creative scene Chicago had to offer, including art museums, opera and theater, and live music.

Through block parties, Gregory further gained insight about developing community through events.

Her collaborator in business and in life, husband Matt Gregory, said his wife is committed to opening doors and leading others, whether those are creative professionals or people who have been marginalized.

“She contributes to many causes, including her work as a board member,” he said. “She sees a need to prove how representation matters. She shows up as a community advocate and has a love and generosity for people.”

Gregory sees it as her life’s calling to act as an advocate.

“You need to stand in who you are,” she said. “You also have to work to create what you want to see in your community and consider the legacy you are leaving behind. Never take it for granted.”