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Survey finds Nashville minority-owned businesses received less COVID-19 income assistance relief

Billions allocated to help minority-owned businesses stay afloat during pandemic
Posted at 8:23 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 21:46:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — A recent survey found that several minority-owned businesses have missed out on federal relief during the pandemic, prompting local advocacy groups to ask for CARES act funds.

The Equity Alliance, with help from the Mayor's Office, found several minority businesses didn’t know where to get adequate information and resources on COVID-19 relief.

The Nashville nonprofit surveyed more than 8,500 residents and small business owners on the social, emotional, economic and health consequences of COVID-19.

The Equity Alliance launched the Our Fair Share Community Needs Assessment on July 8, 2020.

The study showed 60 percent of business owners of color did not receive no form of income assistance during the pandemic compared to nearly 40 percent white businesses.

"We talked to over 200 businesses and 69 percent, that’s more then half, that’s an overwhelming amount of black and brown businesses who were impacted by COVID that have no knowledge of how to access those resources," said Tequila Johnson.

Robert Sherrill has always been aiming for a clean start. The owner of imperial cleaning systems spent years in prison but he doesn’t let that define him.

After seven years of owning his company, he says this year has been the toughest.

"When COVID hit I kind didn’t know what to do, I had outstanding invoices, a lot of customers were slowing paying me, I had to lay people off because my overhead was so substantial," said Sherrill.

Sherrill knew he needed help. He applied for federal loan and grant assistance but later learned he was denied because of his criminal background.

The Equity Alliance and business owners are now asking to make sure the money it received from the federal government goes back to people who truly need it the most.

"There’s a lot of me's out there, lot of small business owners who’s fighting to survive," said Sherrill, "We’re people just like everybody else. We have families to provide for just like everybody else, we have bills."

The survey also found more than two-thirds of respondents to the small business owner survey say they are now regularly operating at a loss due to Covid-19, and qualitative responses show the scale of revenue losses is as high as 90%.