A program aimed at strengthening and investing in small businesses located in underserved communities in the deep South launched on Tuesday. The Hope Enterprise Corporation, with a commitment of up to $130 million from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, partnered with the cities of Birmingham and Montgomery, six other cities and nine historically Black colleges and universities to launch the Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative, according to a press release.
“DSEMC taps the expertise and capabilities of Hope Enterprise Corporation, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, institutions of higher learning and cities in a unique way to provide access to financing, business education classes, and business support services, leveraging support from the private, public and nonprofit sectors,” the release states. “This comprehensive support focuses on stabilizing and strengthening small businesses, and bolstering employment in a region characterized by deep, entrenched poverty and racial disparities.”
“For centuries, racism and economic inequality has thwarted human and economic potential in the Deep South, but our story doesn’t end there,” said H0pe CEO Bill Bynum in a statement. “Equipped with opportunity and the right tools, people of this region can accomplish anything. Fueled by their resilience, and harnessing the collective resources of DSEMC, together we will knock down the barriers facing underserved businesses and communities in a way that has never been done before. The collaborative will help build a more inclusive economy that will yield benefits now and for future generations.”
All small businesses and HBCU’s in Birmingham and Montgomery; Little Rock, Arkansas; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee, are eligible to apply to receive one of DCEMC’s small business loans or to participate in the available businesses education programs, which include technical assistance and procurement education, business plan development and marketing assistance.
“While the DSEMC is open to all small businesses, the impact of the pandemic and economic crisis has disproportionately harmed communities of color. In Alabama, there are roughly 46,916 Black-owned small businesses, with nearly 250,000 self-employed people of color in the Deep South, but given the economic crisis and the impact of COVID-19, many of those businesses are struggling or at risk of closing,” the release states.
“Given the crucial role Black small businesses play in their communities, it is incredibly important that we act urgently to narrow capital gaps they face,” said Goldman Sachs managing director and head of the Urban Investment Group Margaret Anadu in a statement. “By expanding our long-standing partnership with Hope and working alongside such important institutions as our public sector and HBCU partners, we can collectively create stronger, more inclusive communities while creating a model that can be replicated across the country.”
The DSEMC is expected to serve between 4,000 and 5,000 businesses and support 30,000 employees and their family members throughout the region.