Relief is on the horizon for small minority-owned businesses who received little or no government assistance during the height of the pandemic.
The Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC) along with other Black Chambers were grant beneficiaries of the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program distributed to organizations with deep roots in their communities.
The U.S. Black Chamber, Community Economic Development Corporation (USBC CEDC), was awarded $5 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program. Grants were awarded to 51 applicants nationally as part of a $100 million initiative to help reduce the barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs face in accessing the programs and services that they need.
“It’s taken a lot of teamwork to make the dream of surviving the pandemic work for small Black-owned businesses,” said GLAAACC President Gene Hale. “With this grant, GLAAACC will be able to continue to provide programs, services and add more business tools that make the difference between small business recovery and growth and total stagnation that leads to closed doors. This is literally a life line for Black businesses.”
The program is using a community navigator approach to help small businesses, with a focus on those owned by veterans, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals – including in rural and urban communities. The grant is structured as a “Hub and Spoke” model to utilize networks and community advocates to assist historically underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs to better connect to the critical resources needed to launch, pivot, and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Locally, the U.S. Black Chamber is the hub and GLAAACC is the spoke used to directly provide recovery services such as financial assistance, access to capital supports, contracting and procurement assistance, marketing, operations, and business development, export and importing, and industry specific training, among other areas of technical assistance to aid businesses in stabilization and expansion.
Over the past two years, numerous rounds of economic relief last year helped millions of small business stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll, however many minority-owned “mom and pop” businesses were unable to access these funds, while larger, well-connected businesses with the resources and know-how were able to navigate through the bureaucracy and to obtain grants or low-interest loans.
A 2021 survey by a coalition of Federal Reserve Banks found that Black business owners were the most likely to draw from their personal funds to help keep their businesses afloat and five times more likely to not receive Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) funding as compared with White-owned businesses. While 79 percent of White-owned firms received all of the PPP funding they sought, only 43 percent of Black-owned firms did, according to the survey.
The Community Pilot Navigator program was established by the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to ensure that small and micro-businesses receive support and access to federal relief programs in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that can help them recover, grow, and thrive.
For information on accessing GLAAACC programs and services funded by the Community Pilot Navigator program, visit www.glaaacc.org or call (323) 292-1297.