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Capital hard to find for minority businesses

Hub owners Chris Joel and Tiana Ray Burnett
Denise Vozella
/
NEPM
Hub owners Chris Joel and Tiana Ray Burnett

Black and Latino Americans make up more than a fifth of the Massachusetts population but own just 9-percent of all businesses in the state, according to 2018 US Census data. A report in May by some business leaders who say they want to create equity in small business concludes the gap between rich and poor is growing wider in the state. The Coalition for an Equitable Economy report concludes entrepreneurs of color have far more difficulty obtaining needed capital.

To address that challenge State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow has introduced two different bills. One would create a $10 million competitive grant program for minority-owned and minority-led startups in the tech sector. The other would mandate that the state develop a plan for supporting businesses of color.

Some minority owned businesses in western New England are receiving mentoring, training, and other support from a non-profit organization called Entrepreneurship for All. One business that benefited from the group’s training is a collaborative space in downtown Springfield called The Hub, owned by Chris Joel and Tiana Ray Burnett. They had to go beyond traditional sources of funding.

We turned to our community, we turned to our team, our friends, and we really executed our plan throughout the pandemic and came out on top,” said Joel. Burnett recalled once crowdsourcing to pay rent.