Minority-owned small businesses were among those that were extensively impacted from coronavirus-related shutdowns. Many minority-owned construction firms were already suffering from low profits, low credit scores, and weak earnings before the pandemic started, so a significant drop in consumer demand during the lockdowns resulted in the loss of 440,000 Black-owned businesses. Below are some of the ways COVID-19 is impacting minority-owned construction firms and what is being done about it.
Experts have concluded that the economic consequences from COVID-19 have been far worse for minority-owned construction firms because they had to face other challenges including:
- Some of the federal solutions that were intended to save jobs and businesses, like the Paycheck Protection Program, failed to reach minority-owned firms.
- Firms in Black neighborhoods already suffered from not being highly rated on most review sites.
- Equal opportunity and affirmative action requirements were waived for federal construction contracts.
Minority-owned firms that were already experiencing less revenue due to segregation and bias didn’t have the resources to overcome all of these obstacles along with COVID. But more federal support in the near future could provide minority contractors with some much needed relief.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
Schools, cities, and a variety of other organizations are hiring what are known as chief equity officers to promote diversity and inclusion. An ongoing problem in this industry is that minority-owned construction firms are underutilized, and chief equity officers can help bridge the gap by ensuring that they have access to coronavirus relief and other government initiatives to keep them in business. Successful chief equity officers embrace conflict because it disrupts patterns that could be holding people back.
How American Leadership is Approaching the Issue
President Trump recently highlighted his contributions to improving the lives of Black Americans through criminal justice reform and securing funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He also touts low unemployment rates for Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. Presidential hopeful Joe Biden recently shared his policy platform for Black Americans. The plan calls for investing in African-American businesses and entrepreneurs, increasing opportunities for minority-owned businesses to obtain federal contracts, increasing funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget, ensuring that economic relief reaches Black-owned businesses, ensuring equal access to credit and capital and improving the SBA programs for African-American owned firms.
Construction recruiters are also committed to helping minority business owners affected by the coronavirus. In addition to federal programs, here is a list of companies offering COVID-19 relief funds for diverse business owners:
- Verizon’s Small Business Recovery Fund – Offers $10,000 grants to those who qualify.
- Your Friends in New York Business Relief Fund – Awarding grants of different amounts to firm owners in need.
- Facebook – Dedicated $15 million small business owners with 50% going to minorities.
Minority-owned construction firms can leverage these federal and private programs to stay in business. The demand continues to grow for turning protests into policies so that minority-owned companies have the same opportunities that others have.
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