Black Business Owners Fear Federal Relief May Not Be Enough

Written by Black Enterprise Magazine

The novel coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted small businesses around the country with many seeking federal relief to keep their workforce and operations afloat. Despite government stimulus incentives and loans through the broken PPP program, black business owners are uncertain that federal relief will be enough for them to save their business.

Kim Harris and her partners opened the craft beer bar and pub Harlem Hops in New York in 2018, which became a neighborhood hang spot. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were one of the many businesses impacted by the closures, bleeding money just to stay afloat.

Harris and her partners, all graduates of HBCUs, applied for funding in the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.1 trillion bill that along with other relief programs, was designed to prop up small businesses and save jobs during the public health crisis.

“We applied for everything,” Harris told NBC News. “And [we] were denied for everything.”

As another round of federal funding, $484 billion, is set to come, some small business owners, are alarmed it may already be too late. On a recent New York Urban League conference call, J. Philip Thompson, the deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives, said, “Most small businesses and especially black-owned businesses have, in a good economy, no more than two weeks of liquidity that they can rely on to keep them afloat.”

Black business owners have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic. Ninety-five percent of black-owned businesses are sole proprietorships or partnerships that have no employees.

“If you use the money for your payroll, the loan is forgiven. What if a business has one employee or no employees? Which a lot of small businesses operating at capacity, black-owned businesses, they don’t have employees, so then you can’t get the loan forgiven so now you go into debt,” Evans-Hendricks, executive director of Harlem Park to Park, a business and cultural consortium of over 250 small business owners, said on the call. ‟It’s a mounting financial hole, which at some point you can’t dig yourself out of.”

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