CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some of your favorite businesses continue to take a beating during this pandemic. But statically, it’s black-owned businesses that are getting the brunt of those blows.
Across America, black-owned businesses are 95 percent more likely to not receive stimulus money. That’s according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
COVID-19 does not discriminate, anyone can get sick, but during an online meeting hosted by the Harvey Gantt Center, speakers said they’re hoping everyone gets a solid chance of getting help and government relief.
Three well-known black businesses in Charlotte faced this issue. There is Kia Lyons, who owns a Popbar franchise in NoDa, No Grease Barbershop - which has a prominent location connected to the Spectrum Center in Uptown -- is owned by Damian Johnson and lastly, Chef Andarrio Johnson who runs Cuzzos Cuisine, which is known for its specialty crafted Lobster Mac and cheese.
All three owners applied for the PPP. All three didn’t get it. CBS is reporting that major banks prioritized funding based on which companies asked for the most money.
“It’s a double-edged sword. There was a sense of urgency to get it out, but the bones weren’t there to properly and effectively execute the programs and that’s the result of what we’re seeing now," said Dealva Wilson.
Wilson is on the COVID-19 recovery task force to help minority businesses during these hard times, a group created by Mayor Vi Lyles and the city of Charlotte. The goal, she says, is to find other grants or loans in case the PPP never pans out.
“There are a lot of people in need who will simply not be able to receive the funds and it’s very unfortunate, but it’s a fact that we’re living with," said Wilson.
Back to those three business owners: As a barber, there is no way around the stay-at-home order. Damian Johnson continues to be without work.
“Absolutely. Shutdown on the first day,” he confirmed.
Lyons says she’s been able to get creative with curbside service, but she is also suffering.
“My business has dropped 75 percent. So yes, there is money coming in, but it’s not enough to meet our needs as a business,” said Lyons.
Chef Johnson says his demand for take-out is still high, but he’s lost money because he can’t continue with catering because events have to be canceled.
“It has its ups and downs, but we’re still in business and that’s a good thing,” the chef said.
Disadvantages and disparity when it comes to minorities is nothing new. The mayor says it’s like this virus is shining a spotlight to highlight the issue.
“It’s very difficult right now to address that. It’s a lesson that we’ve all known about,” said Mayor Lyles.
Wednesday, the mayor will be starting a mentorship webinar series to connect local businesses to resources, so owners know who in the city is able to help.