Feb 15, 2023 - Business

Business leaders push to support Black businesses' pandemic recovery

Illustration of a vintage cash register with an extra large display showing a dollar sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

With a new investment, business leaders are trying to make sure Black-owned businesses in Massachusetts aren’t left behind in the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: The federal government is pouring billions into states to reduce inflation, boost public infrastructure and address tech manufacturing hurdles. But business leaders worry Black owners won’t see any of that money.

  • Many were left out of pandemic relief funding, and small businesses tend to lack the administrative resources to navigate often complicated application processes for funding and work opportunities.

What’s happening: The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts is investing $750,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation in small grants, administrative resources and bidding help, says President Nicole Obi. The foundation will send BECMA the money in yearly installments of $250,000 through 2025.

  • Obi says the Rockefeller funding will support business owners with short-term hurdles while helping those companies scale up and potentially vie for federally funded grants and contracts so they don’t end up left out again.

What they’re saying: "It wasn't too long ago … We can look back two years ago and see money that was meant to help to revive and restore the economy didn't end up in the hands of people who needed it the most,” Obi tells Axios.

BECMA isn’t the only group seeking to close gaps for Black-owned businesses. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley secured $643,000 in federal funding for African Community Economic Development of New England to support Black and African immigrant-led businesses affected by the pandemic.

  • Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson said yesterday she has also allocated millions in local American Rescue Plan funds and other money to boost small businesses.

Zoom in: BECMA will use part of the money on its back-office support program, which helps small businesses with accounting, legal documents, marketing and other paperwork that they aren’t often equipped to handle. The program also offers grants of up to $7,500, Obi says.

  • The money will also support BECMA’s new vendor advisory council, which partners minority-led groups with local officials to make the bidding process for government projects more accessible to small, Black-owned businesses.

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