GRAND RAPIDS — Black-owned businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Grand Rapids can apply for financial assistance from a $25,000 donation from Comcast Corp.
Comcast announced Monday that it would award the funds to Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses’ Relief and Resilience Fund. GRABB will immediately distribute the funds to up to 15 qualified Black-owned businesses..
“Many of the COVID-19 impacted businesses in Grand Rapids are small family operations that haven’t been successful accessing traditional sources of capital,” GRABB founder Jamiel Robinson said in a statement.
A Global Strategy Group survey conducted during April and May for nonprofits Color of Change and UnidosUS shows that 12 percent of Black and Latino business owners who applied for aid through the Small Business Administration reported receiving what they had asked for, and 26 percent received a fraction of what they requested. In contrast, a U.S. Census Bureau survey of small businesses shows three-quarters of business owners requested a loan and 38 percent received one.
“Along with our other program offerings, this support will help Black businesses stay afloat and survive these difficult times while providing some breathing room to refocus and forge forward through this uncertainty,” Robinson said.
The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the African American community, and non-white business owners have faced structural barriers when applying for pandemic business recovery funds.
Robinson previously told MiBiz that a localized response for minority-owned businesses that might not qualify for federal loans is crucial so they “don’t fall through the cracks.”
“Black-owned businesses have always played a vital role in Grand Rapids’ growth and future,” Jeff Snyder, manager of government affairs for Comcast in West Michigan, said in a statement. “During this pandemic, these entrepreneurs provide many of the services and resources that keep the community up and running.”