Montgomery initiative helps minority-owned businesses

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - COVID-19 has made doing business in the country harder, especially for minority-owned businesses.

The city of Montgomery has started an initiative called “Doing Business in Montgomery” to target minority businesses that are struggling to stay afloat.

The city announced its plan to transfer $20 million to Liberty Bank, one of the largest Black-owned banks in the nation, to help minority businesses get access to capital rather than “someone having to take out a payday loan.”

“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 the initiative will help minority businesses hire more people and get 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 that receive 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 wave of issues ever since she first opened at the height of the pandemic.

“Trying to figure out what exactly to do so that customers are receiving the best products, and so that we’re also able to maintain consistency,” she said.

With her restaurant being a specialty restaurant, Merritt has had to make some tough decisions in order to stay open.

“Not having funding has tightened our menu, it’s tightened our budget,” she said, “So we’ve not ben able to offer as many items. We’ve not been able to secure the staffing that we’d like.”

“Black-owned banks are closer to the issues, they’re closer to those businesses. They often are a bridge to those that are unbanked and underserved in the community,” Reed said.

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