Business Resource Collective
The Business Resource Collective is a coalition of more than 20 cultural and place-based community organizations in the Twin Cities and statewide focused on centering the needs and growth of Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and people of color owned (BIPOC) businesses. The BRC envisions a Minnesota with a thriving small business landscape in every community, where small businesses create living wage jobs for neighborhood residents, and businesses are community-nurturing gathering spaces that generate economic opportunity.
WHY is this work important?
Our businesses play an essential role in building and sustaining the culture, wealth and economic vitality of BIPOC and immigrant communities, and they are central to the economic survival and prosperity of our state overall. But a lack of intentionality in government programs and policy — along with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — has undermined the success of our businesses and deepened racial disparities.
We know that our businesses are powerful:
- The Black, African, Latino, Asian and Native American economy constitutes a $1.4 trillion asset to the state.
- From 2007 to 2017, the number of BIPOC-owned businesses in Minnesota doubled, increasing dramatically from just 6% (31,000) to 11% (58,000) of the state’s businesses.
And yet, racial disparities cost an estimated loss of $287 billion dollars for BIPOC communities in Minnesota, including a $22 billion loss in income because of the wage gap, and $67 billion loss in racial entrepreneurship gap.
WHAT are our shared goals?
The BRC has near-term and long-term goals, which together, can build awareness, concern, and action to influence state-level funding for ongoing programs and on-time investments for BIPOC small businesses. In support of policies and degree of investment to further the health of BIPOC small businesses, the BRC can take steps over the next several legislative sessions to achieve the following:
- Further inclusive and intentional language: “Small business” must recognize and intentionally name micro-enterprises, self-employed, sole proprietorships, creative businesses, and home-based businesses — categories of small business where our communities are disproportionately represented, and too often overlooked when small business is simply defined as fewer than 500 employees. “Minority business” must explicitly name ownership by historic black, immigrant, African, Asian, Latinx and Indigenous persons.
- Advance the Invest in Micro to Main Street Businesses Campaign: BRC will continue to proactively advocate for bills that reflect material investments in resources and policies that can deepen support of the type of micro and small businesses that BRC members serve. This includes:
- 5 million toward Creative Place-keeping Programs and Activation
- $25 million toward Micro and Business Relief Grants
- $45 million toward Technical Assistance and Network Building Events
- $45 million toward Business Professional Service Support Access
- $100 million toward Physical Spaces for Entrepreneur Development
- $208 million toward Business and Community Development Support
Building on years of work around economic development, the BRC worked with Hennepin and Ramsey counties in 2020 to ensure our communities’ entrepreneurs and businesses were not left out of the programs intended to provide relief to businesses impacted by COVID. As a result:
- While 90% of small businesses are white-owned, more than 50% of applicants to the county relief programs were from BIPOC business owners.
- Through this process, the small business community partners developed a relationship with the counties and were able to influence the evolution of the relief programs to better meet the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs in our communities, including the creation of a fund targeting Self-Employed entrepreneurs and inclusion of home-based businesses.
- Because of this relationship BIPOC leaders are continuing to inform and adjust how Ramsey and Hennepin counties can best support BIPOC businesses and entrepreneurs through COVID and into future.
The BRC also worked to deepen state leaders’ understanding around the specific needs of BIPOC and immigrant-owned businesses, sending a detailed letter to Governor Walz, Lt Governor Flanagan and relevant state leaders in 2020, calling on the administration to add intentionality to its small business relief and recovery efforts. The BRC placed a commentary in the Star Tribune and mobilized members of the public to urge state leaders to follow through on their commitments to racial equity and include explicit provisions to support and nurture BIPOC businesses in final budget negotiations. As a result:
- Members of the coalition secured a meeting with Governor Walz, Lt Governor Flanagan and the Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
- Based on the recommendations of the coalition, the Governor’s budget included micro-businesses and increased dollars for technical assistance under DEED.
- The Commissioners of DEED and the Department of Administration committed to ongoing meetings to address inequities and access issues within existing programs.
During the 2022 state legislative session, the BRC put forward a bold Investment Package, and is working on several pieces of legislation. Read more in our commentary in MinnPost: “For lasting change, continued investment in BIPOC businesses is needed.“