COVID-19 Justice

Emergency funding isn’t reaching black-owned businesses in Kalamazoo, say business owners

Access to funding may be an issue, as well as reluctance to take on debt in the middle of a crisis.

There have been two waves of aid for locally-owned businesses in Kalamazoo. But African-American business owners say they haven’t had equal access to the funds, according to a story on WMUK.

There have been grants for businesses funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and overseen by Southwest Michigan First. There have also been emergency loans funded and administered by the City of Kalamazoo and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

Data on the loan program released this week backs up claims of unequal distribution. The program issued nearly $1.2-million in loans. Nearly 72% of the recipients were businesses owned by white people.

Advocates for black-owned businesses interviewed by WMUK said those results follow existing trends, but are exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

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