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August 17, 2020

Addressing Inequality On Main Street

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife recently released a survey that found minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the accompanying economic fallout.

Specifically, the poll found two in three (66 percent) minority-owned small businesses are concerned about having to permanently close their business versus 57 percent for non-minority small businesses. Minority-owned businesses are also slightly more likely to report trying and failing to secure a loan to help survive the economic turmoil (13 percent versus eight percent of non-minority businesses) linked to the coronavirus. More minority-owned businesses also expect revenue to decrease. The number of minority-owned businesses expecting revenue to decrease in the next year has increased fivefold (five percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 24 percent now).

To help address this disparity, most small businesses also think it is important for them to act in the wake of the recent protests over racial inequality. For example, four in five (79 percent) small businesses said it is important to make a commitment to fairness in hiring, promotion, and pay. Additionally, 74 percent said it is important to support local Black-owned small businesses.

The U.S. Chamber has identified several pieces of legislation that could help reduce inequalities between minority- and non-minority-owned businesses. These include:

  • The College Transparency Act (S. 800/H.R. 1766), which would help address the skills gap by letting students make more informed decisions about their education.
  • The Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2019 (H.R. 5084), which would facilitate gender, racial, and ethnic diversity on corporate boards.
  • An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need (S. 1066/H.R. 2055), which would expand the “10-20-30 formula” to target federal funds to persistently high-poverty communities by directing at least 10 percent of funding to counties where 20 percent of the population has lived below the poverty line for 30 years or more.
  • Minority Business Development Act of 2019 (H.R. 1432), which would authorize the Minority Business Development Agency to consolidate and lead important existing government initiatives to facilitate growth of minority businesses, and to work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to find new opportunities for business owners of color.
  • The Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2020 (S. 4208/H.R. 6869), which would codify the Minority Business Development Agency and would provide additional funding for minority-owned businesses to help them recover from the pandemic.
  • The Necessary Entrepreneurship Workshops via the SBA to Transform and Assist Re-entry Training Act of 2019 (S. 1077), which would create a pilot program within the Small Business Administration for grants to create and support entrepreneurship programs for the formerly incarcerated.
  • The REAL Act of 2019 (S. 1074/H.R. 2168), which would ensure incarcerated individuals have access to Pell grants without restrictions on what school individuals attend and provide access and opportunity to quality education and training for those in prison.
  • The Clean Slate Act of 2019 (H.R. 2348), which would provide a framework for sealing records related to simple possession of marijuana, sealing of records of arrests for certain drug-related crimes that did not result in conviction, and a petition process to seal records related to conviction for certain nonviolent offenses.
  • The Driving for Opportunity Act of 2020 (S. 4186), which would provide grants to States that do not suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a driver’s licenses or refuse to renew a registration of a motor vehicle for failure to pay a civil or criminal fine or fee, and for other purposes.