Strategies to Support Small Business Diversity and Equity
Part Three - Gateway Cities Innovation Institute Awards and Summit
Small business is an important topic in any circumstance, but in the midst of a devastating pandemic, the decisions we, as nonprofits, policymakers, funders, and community members make to support small businesses of color today will have ripple effects far into the future.
This paints a damning picture for small business ecosystems across Massachusetts, but as small businesses in Gateway Cities are more likely to be smaller and owned by people of color, there is cause for additional alarm and urgent response.
Earlier this year, The MassINC Polling Group released the results of a survey of small business owners in Massachusetts. As many of you know, the data painted a devastating picture. At the time of the poll, just one in three small businesses reported being fully open.
64% of small businesses reported drops of 25% or more for the first half of 2020.Nearly half of small businesses said they have laid off or furloughed employees.And businesses owned by women and people of color were hit particularly hard and reported greater financial losses.
Small businesses, especially ones run by entrepreneurs of color, often lack access to equity or debt financing. Historically, banks and financial institutions have intentionally excluded these entrepreneurs, frequently leaving them to start their businesses with personal savings, borrowing from friends and family, or by mortgaging their homes.
This is why it is so critical for local leaders to take proactive measures to support small businesses of color and to help institutions meet them where they are.
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In Massachusetts, a decades long economic boom has not always reached Gateway Cities, yielding uneven growth and investment that have deepened inequities across places, races, classes and cultures. The coronavirus pandemic has amplified these disparities.
To address uneven growth, policy leaders turned to transit-oriented development, the practice of developing property near a transit station. But without intentional efforts to improve quality of life or economic opportunity for residents, uneven growth and inequities persist – especially in Gateway Cities.
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