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Photo: Brittany Valentine/AL DÍA News
SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman was in Philly on Monday, Feb. 28. Photo: Brittany Valentine/AL DÍA News

SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman visits minority-owned businesses in Philly to end Black History Month

The gathering was organized with the National Urban League and Urban League of Philly, and featured a discussion on the state of small biz in the city.

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On Monday, February 28, SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman, visited Philadelphia to celebrate minority-owned businesses at the end of Black History Month. 

Gathering at SouthSide Events and Catering, Administrator Guzman joined leaders of the National Urban League, to meet with local business owners for a discussion on the state of small businesses under the Biden-Harris administration. 

The National Urban League is one of 51 Hubs within the SBA’s Community Navigator Program ― an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers faced by entrepreneurs when attempting to access programs needed to recover from economic crises or to simply start and grow their business.

The program will provide a total of $100 million to fund organizations that will work with hundreds of local community groups to improve access to SBA and government resources for America’s entrepreneurs. 

The selected projects will cover communities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico and connect small businesses to industry-specific training, financial assistance and access to capital, business development, and more. 

Data from a 2021 survey from tax-prep service H&R Block found that 53% of Black business owners saw their revenue drop by half, compared to 37% of White owners, since the pandemic started. 

“This is the final day of Black History Month, and as a part of Black History Month, we are showcasing Black small businesses here in Philadelphia today. Today we’re proud that the work will expand dramatically as a result of a partnership with the Small Business Administration,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. 

Andrea Custis, President & CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, expressed gratitude for the Biden-Harris administration’s passage of the American Rescue Plan, and for all the local advocates for Black business owner success, such as PA Sen. Vincent Hughes and Philly Councilmember Kendra Brooks. 

Custis then spoke about the state of Black-owned businesses during the pandemic, and how the Community Navigator Program will help people rebuild. 

“Forty-one percent [of Black-owned businesses] in the United States shuttered during COVID, compared to 17% of our White owned businesses. Unfortunately, Philadelphia was aligned. We had 40% that shuttered. It was access to capital,” she said. 

“So for all of you who have made it and will continue to make it: We thank you. We just want to have the ability to impact many more. And so the $5.8 million that we brought in for finance in the last year, I want that to look like $10 million or more,’ Custis added. 

In Guzman’s remarks, she highlighted the position of organizations like the National Urban League and the Urban League of Philadelphia to continue to play the key connector between small business owners in the community and funds dispersed by the SBA.

“This is a unique time and opportunity, and we want to make sure that all of our businesses are positioned for success. And thanks to the local network of National Urban League, they are designing programs that will make a difference in helping businesses develop strategic plans,” Guzman said.

Small business owners in attendance of the event shared their stories of struggling through the pandemic, and for many Black business owners, access to capital was the biggest roadblock. 

“They will help connect them to capital providers that can give them that working capital loan to grow and expand their business. I’ve been so pleased by the stories that were shared with me today, as it does inform my everyday work, and informs the policy that I am committed to delivering change for the Biden-Harris administration,” Guzman said. 

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