The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new set of challenges to local businesses. Some had to close their doors entirely and many had to move swiftly to pivot their business model to adapt to a new environment.
These changes disproportionally affected Black small businesses owners and sole proprietors, said California Chamber of Commerce CEO Jay King.
“Many of these businesses didn’t originally qualify for other grant or loan programs, like (the Paycheck Protection Program), so they found that they didn’t have the financial help to adapt or the relief for being forced to close,” King said. “The City of Sacramento made it a priority to ensure that these types of businesses had an opportunity to benefit from these funds and grow during these turbulent times.”
With funding from the $89.6 million in federal CARES act, the City developed a Small Business Recovery Program with support from 15 different local chambers of commerce and community-based organizations. The California Black Chamber of Commerce was one of these providers.
With their help, the City distributed more than 1,500 forgivable loans and grants to businesses and 6,223 businesses received technical assistance for business experts.
“Since we are mostly an event-based catering company, our business dramatically dropped when the COVID-19 pandemic started,” said Tashika Floyd, owner of Blessing Catering in North Natomas. “The grant we received from the California Black Chamber of Commerce helped me pay for some of the immediate loses from canceled events due to the pandemic. The best part though was participating in the Chamber’s Greater Sacramento Literacy Group, where we learned how to invest our funds to help grow our business for the long term.”
The California Black Chamber of Commerce was able to provide 69 grants ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 in addition to technical assistance to small businesses, which were predominately Black-owned with sole proprietors.
The technical assistance included training on obtaining business licenses, Business Operating Tax (BOT) registration, business bank accounts and other training/workshop topics based on needs.
“Because of the City of Sacramento’s commitment to help Black-owned small and micro-business owners, we were able to help those who had been overlooked time and time again and help them get some relief,” King said.