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Discussing what's next for minority owned businesses as economy improves but pandemic lingers

In a virtual discussion, elected officials, community leaders, and entrepreneurs focused on support for minority owned businesses in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Even as the economy shows signs of recovery, some small businesses are still struggling and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found minority owned businesses have suffered at disproportionate levels.

Knowing this, elected officials, non-profit leaders, and entrepreneurs joined the Hill's Small Business Recovery Tour Tuesday to talk about ways to support those in Minneapolis who are currently in need. Questions included: what is urgently needed and what opportunities are being created for the long-term? 

"The pandemic shined a light on the disparities in America," U.S. Rep. Angie Craig said. "We've known they've existed in many communities but it really did show that gap exists and we've got to work hard to make sure that we close the gap."

"A lot of that work, it has to be done at the local level. Washington can't do that. We can provide, as you say, funding but if you're going to talk to Hispanic business owners, you've got to go do that in native languages and so you've got to hire people to go out and help you do that."

Mayor Jacob Frey spoke about business owners of color not only having a seat at the table but also being beneficiaries of resources.

"We're going to make sure that not only these black and brown business owners own their own business but they own the underlying real estate so that when we see gains from the economy, when those values get increased, these business owners that have helped make these neighborhoods and corridors wonderful to begin with don't get the boot because the rent gets jacked up."

The entire discussion can be viewed here.

While many minority owned businesses had to permanently close during the pandemic, those that survived did so in their own unique way. 

"Before the pandemic, we were actually just a food truck," said Bradley Taylor, owner of the Donut Trap. "Fortunately what we did, we were able to pivot and turn our attention more into farmers markets."

"But overall it was really terrifying more than anything because you just didn't know, right? It was like what are we going to do? What does this outlook look like three months, four months down the road?"

Nicole Jennings, owner of Queen Anna House of Fashion in North Loop, points out that each business' needs are also unique.

"As a black-owned business, I feel like what I have to say is valid and I'm not the only person who has a valid voice but no one asked," Jennings said. "Don't assume. You don't know me or my business and I could tell you. You don't have to guess."

Taylor says, in addition to grant money, resources should go toward informing consumers of the various minority owned businesses that exist.

Meanwhile Jennings believes many measures could be taken and those that do will need to continue in order for businesses to thrive.

"I don't necessarily want one thing to be done for me because I'm black and I own a business," she said. "The plans in place can't be just because we're coming off a COVID year. This needs to become something that becomes the norm."

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