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City of Cincinnati outlines plan to earmark stimulus money for Black-owned businesses

Cincinnati City Hall at night
Posted at 11:13 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 23:20:45-04

CINCINNATI — A portion of the $290 million stimulus allocated to the City of Cincinnati by the federal government is being earmarked for Black-owned businesses.

Mayor John Cranley made the announcement Thursday and several Black-owned business owners and entrepreneurs said they’re ready to jump at the opportunity.

“We have a lot of love for the city of Cincinnati and the state,” Originalitees owner Khisha Asubuhi said.

At its heart, the business is about hometown pride and empowerment.

“Initially, we were planning to open in April and then the pandemic came, so fast forward a couple months and we opened up in July,” Asubuhi said.

She started the business 11 years ago, but the storefront was a recent addition. Her history of online sales allowed her to keep the brick-and-mortar going, but many like her are in real need of support.

“We’re announcing today what I hope to be historic,” Cincinnati mayor John Cranley said.

He joined leaders from the African American chamber and the Urban League to discuss what he hopes will be an investment of $40 million raised over five years, with $5 million to start.

“We have some very successful African American-owned businesses in Cincinnati and it’s time to fill in the middle class,” Cranley said.

Advocates said the money is needed because the gap existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From 2012 to 2017, we had a 3% growth in white businesses. In that same time period, we had a decrease in Black businesses,” Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio president and CEO Eddie Koen said.

Cranley said he expects city council to take 2 to 6 weeks to evaluate the idea but believes the goal of doubling the economic impact of Black-owned businesses is a good fit for a city trying to move forward.