Business Resource Collective

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uprising around the murder of George Floyd have been devastating for many Black, brown, indigenous and immigrant-owned businesses in the Twin Cities. We know that these businesses play an essential role in building and sustaining the culture, wealth and economic vitality of BIPOC and immigrant communities, and “relief” funding must be intentional in addressing and centering the unique needs of our small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Working with Ramsey and Hennepin counties

Building on years of work around economic development, the Alliance partnered with Hennepin and Ramsey counties in 2020 to convene a partnership of small business community development organizations and place-based organizations working with BIPOC businesses and cultural corridors to ensure our communities’ entrepreneurs and businesses are not being 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.

Working with Minnesota state leaders

Tabitha Montgomery, Executive Director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, outlining the key components of the Business Resource Collective letter in a meeting with state leaders

Given their role and influence in providing and allocating relief funding, the small business coalition has also worked to deepen state leaders’ understanding around the specific needs of BIPOC and immigrant-owned businesses to save our communities in this pivotal moment.

In December 2020, nearly 20 organizations that focus on supporting and growing BIPOC- and immigrant-owned businesses sent a detailed letter to Governor Walz, Lt Governor Flanagan and relevant state leaders, calling on the administration to add intentionality to its small business relief and recovery efforts. In June, the coalition published 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.