Montgomery launches initiative to help minority-owned businesses
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – COVID-19 has made it more difficult to do business in the country, especially for minority-owned businesses.
The city of Montgomery has launched an initiative called “Doing Business in Montgomery” to target minority businesses struggling to stay afloat.
The city announced plans to transfer $20 million to Liberty Bank, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, to help minority businesses access capital rather than “someone having to take out a loan on salary”.
“One of the biggest challenges for black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses in particular is access to capital,” Mayor Steven Reed said.
The mayor added that the initiative will help minority businesses hire more people and have “a chance to really shine and show what they can do when given a bigger project.”
So far, the initiative has “tripled the number of black businesses receiving city contracts,” which will allow them to be vendors for city events.
Black business owners like Quebe Merritt said they could benefit from the initiative. Merritt owns Plant Bae and has faced a flurry of issues since opening at the height of the pandemic.
“Trying to figure out exactly what needs to be done so that customers receive the best products and so that we are also able to maintain consistency,” she said.
With her restaurant being a specialty restaurant, Merritt had to make tough decisions to stay open.
“Not having funding has tightened our menu, it has tightened our budget,” she said, “So we haven’t been able to offer as many items. We haven’t been in able to get the staff we would have liked.
“Black-owned banks are closer to the issues, they are closer to these businesses. They are often a bridge to those who are unbanked and underserved in the community,” Reed said.
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