CINCINNATI - City Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney has announced a program to encourage the public to help small black-owned businesses struggling during COVID-19.
"The black community has been impacted at the highest rates, not just in terms of health but economically as well," Mayor John Cranley said during his Wednesday update at City Hall.
In announcing #CincyBuyBlackThursdays, Kearney asked residents to go to the directory of black-owned businesses on the City of Cincinnati website and support them. Then share on social media using the hashtag #CincyBuyBlackThursdays. Kearney said black businesses not listed in the directory can add their names here.
"When we say, 'We're all in this together,' it means supporting everyone," Kearney said.
Councilmember Kearney joins Mayor Cranley to discuss new initiatives to support small businesses, particularly black-owned businesses. “These are tough economic so we need to step up to support all of our local businesses. These businesses are the backbone of our city.” pic.twitter.com/DbdI8g2eHL
— City of Cincinnati (@CityOfCincy) May 6, 2020
Kearney said Hamilton County black businesses have historically faced disadvantages in getting business loans, making it harder for them to generate revenue. Before COVID, the annual average revenue for businesses in Hamilton County was $820,000, but only $68,000 for black businesses, Kearney said.
Kearney said black businesses have not received a fair share of emergency federal loans and cited two reasons.
For one, the loan program requires engaging large banks, and many black business owners don't have relationships with large banks, preferring to work with credit unions and community banks. Also, she said, some "ex-felons trying to become responsible members of the community are not eligible" because of their criminal record.
As for the second round of small business grants, Kearney said a survey of 60 black businesses showed 37% had received money but 63% "were told no, or they needed more information, or are still waiting to hear."
In other announcements:
- City Health Commissioner Melba Moore reported two COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the city's total to 31. She reported 23 new cases, making the city total 611.
- The Urban League's "Mask What Matters" campaign has distributed more than 10,000 masks, CEO Eddie Coen said. Text URBANLEAGUE to 797979 to be alerted to the next distribution.
- More drive-thru testing will be done May 12-14 at the Dunham Recreation Center in Westwood, Cranley said, but you must schedule an appointment here.
- Cranley said the Ohio Senate voted Wednesday to share about one-third of $1.2 billion in new federal emergency funds with local governments. "We're happy about that, but it needs to get passed by the House," said Cranley, who has been seeking help to fill a projected $94 million budget gap.