CLEVELAND, April 23, 2020 – The Business Growth Collaborative, an organization comprised of 11 organizations supporting entrepreneurs of color, disbursed $100,000 in grants to 20 minority-owned small businesses in Northeast Ohio in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
These contributions, called the Boost Fund, were released this month and were supported by a grant from the KeyBank Business Boost and Build program powered by JumpStart. This fund was created to mitigate the lack of access to capital which face many business owners of color, especially during a unique state of emergency. The Boost Fund provided businesses with $2,500 to $7,500 in grant capital to assist with unexpected expenses while applying for emergency relief during this crisis.
Recipients represent a range of industries. They include a health and wellness boutique pivoting to online consultations and training sessions, a medical staffing firm in need of payroll support, and a trucking company suffering from lower shipping frequency.
Without these funds, many businesses who received a Boost grant would be at greater risk of closing, especially if they have no buffer before receiving federal assistance.
"Every little bit is helping at this point. It's been great to see people go to battle for our small businesses," said Karl Singleton, President & CEO of Foundation Transportation, a recipient of the grant funds through the President's Council.
Singleton's business transports professional athletes, corporate leaders and others to and from the airport and to business meetings, in addition to transporting for special occasions such as proms and weddings. On a typical week, Foundation Transportation will handle 20-40 trips. After the covid-19 outbreak, the business has dropped to 1 or 2. The grant, Singleton said, will help him pay the chauffeurs. The business was also approved for an SBA loan and has applied for other resources, but Singleton is still waiting for funding to arrive.
"Right now, we are focusing on what changes we can make and start educating our clientele on what measures we are taking to make sure they and our chauffeurs are safe," he said.
While the COVID-19 crisis for small businesses is unprecedented, Northeast Ohio’s extraordinary level of collaboration to support them has been well established. Since 2017, With generous support from the Cleveland Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership, in collaboration with JumpStart, created the Business Growth Collaborative (BGC) committed to the growth of minority-owned businesses in Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods. The BGC accomplishes this mission by sharing resources, achieving milestones with small businesses, and streamlining services available for the minority population.
Partners include Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, GCP's small business division COSE, Economic and Community Development Institute, Hispanic Business Center, JumpStart Inc., MAGNET, Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, Ohio Aerospace Institute, the Presidents' Council and Urban League of Greater Cleveland.
The Business Growth Collaborative will continue serving its clients with strategic guidance through the crisis, including how to navigate federal disaster assistance, communicating with customers and employees, and making tough balance sheet decisions.
While the Boost Fund is just one remedy to inequitable business financing, GCP is continuously advocating for equitable policies and processes to promote wealth creation through business ownership during the crisis and beyond. On April 14, the organization announced its creation of the Cleveland Metro RESTART, an initiative to assist in the reopening of the local economy.
With more than 12,000 members, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is the largest metropolitan chamber of commerce in the nation. We're focused on driving the economic vitality of our region through building a strong and thriving climate for the broad business community, including small businesses, middle-market companies and large corporations.