Black leaders request Biden for targeted federal funds to save Black businesses

National Urban League's Marc Morial and Ron Busby of U.S. Black Chambers want Biden to be specific.

Members of the National Urban League and the U.S. Black Chambers are demanding that funds from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan be specifically earmarked to save Black businesses. 

“It should be specific,” said Ron Busby, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Black Chambers. “It should not be ‘minority,’ it should not be ‘underserved,’ it should be ‘Black.’” 

Former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial (left), now president of the National Urban League, and Ron Busby (right), president and chief executive officer of U.S. Black Chambers, want funds from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan to be specifically earmarked to save Black businesses. (Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images and Larry French/Getty Images for AT&T)

The request comes as the coronavirus pandemic has seen Black businesses close at a disproportionate rate, and fatalities from the virus more disproportionately affect the Black community. 

The New York Federal Reserve recently released a report that noted the number of Black businesses dropped by nearly half between February and April of last year during the height of the pandemic, while white businesses saw only a 17% loss. 

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The report, titled Double Jeopardy: COVID-19’s Concentrated Health and Wealth Effects in Black Communities, contends that the business disruption and virus cases were geographically concentrated in urban centers. 

As previously reported, a study released in January showed that thousands of minority-owned businesses were at the bottom of the list when it came to receiving the government’s coronavirus relief loans. Minority-owned companies struggled to find banks to accept their applications or were limited by the terms of the program, according to Associated Press.

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“Many of our businesses were being turned down in the first and second round of funding,” Busby told AP last month. “That caused application fatigue and frustration.” 

Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a virtual roundtable earlier this month to discuss how the Biden administration would repair the economic damage to Black communities caused by COVID-19. 

Yellen acknowledged the “pandemic has exacerbated all the problems that existed before.” 

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Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the National Urban League, said that for a package from the White House to directly impact Black businesses, it should be micro-business targeted as well, as 99% of Black-owned businesses are run by sole entrepreneurs. He called for relief for “those businesses specifically that have 10 or fewer employees.” 

Both Morial and Busby are also calling for funding to help Black Americans who may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and want to start their own business. Due to systemic issues, many existing Black businesses faced the pandemic already dealing with daunting challenges.

“Many have had to close because of no business, no savings, no reserve funds,” Morial said, “and no access to financing.”

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