Groups take ‘Listening Tour’ of minority-owned businesses
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Business owners said on Thursday at a “Minority-Owned Small Business Listening Tour” event sponsored by LISC NYC, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Bridge Street Development Corp., also located in Brooklyn, that the future of this vital sector of the business community remains far from certain.
Black and Latino business owners called for immediate relief and support from all levels of government to help ensure the recovery of these businesses in commercial corridors throughout Brooklyn’s minority neighborhoods.
Convened by community development non-profit LISC NYC, the “Minority Business Listening Tour” was created to elevate the challenges minority business owners across the five boroughs are confronting. The tour kicked off in Brooklyn, where business owners sought additional support.
“Minority-owned small businesses have always faced inequity when it comes to accessing the resources, services and networks that most businesses depend on to function. The pandemic and resulting economic crisis have only exacerbated those distinct challenges,” said Khadija Tudor, owner of Life Wellness Center in Bed-Stuy.
“The weather is turning for the better, COVID cases continue to dwindle, and office workers are returning to their workplace. This is all great news, but the fact of the matter is that minority-owned businesses, despite all that, are still hanging on by a thread,” said Sabrina Brockman, owner of Grandchamps, a Haitian restaurant in Bed-Stuy. “It’s important our leaders take immediate steps to make sure the recovery of this great city is felt in all corners and by all business owners like myself, along with the other minority business owners I’m proud to call friends.”
One business owner said, “We can’t rely on the customer coming in to keep us open, unfortunately.”
Following Thursday’s event in Brooklyn, LISC NYC plans to convene similar events across the other four boroughs.
“As we’ve been operating on the front lines of supporting the city’s vulnerable underserved communities over the past two years, we’ve seen first-hand the unique challenges facing minority-owned businesses and heard the fears keeping these business owners up at night,” said Valerie White, executive director of LISC NYC. “But, as is too often the case, these stories from minority New Yorkers aren’t being heard across the city, which is why we’re embarking on this five-borough-wide listening tour.”
“There’s no doubt that the obstacles facing Brooklyn’s minority-owned businesses are unique, distinct, and critically important to address if we’re to ensure an equitable recovery for this vital business community,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “There’s no way that New York can meet the challenge of a robust recovery without targeted investment and policies that bring resources and investment to these devasted minority-owned small businesses.”
“Minority businesses make up the backbone of neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, which is why it’s so important that all levels of government respond immediately to the economic crisis these businesses are facing, which won’t solve itself,” said Gregory Anderson, president and CEO of Bridge Street Development Corporation that serves Central Brooklyn.
The business owners and advocates called on lawmakers to streamline immediate financial relief to minority-owned small businesses across the city through direct outreach efforts, according to LISC NYC.
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