Oh, and minority-owned firms have it worse on both counts. Business is picking up in Chicago, but for some minority-owned shops and restaurants, ‘it’s still not enough.’
First there was COVID-19, and Illinois and Chicago have been crazier than most about the lockdown. Then there was a loan program to help small businesses. And then there were riots. I’m expecting either an alien invasion, or Sweet Meteor of Death before the end of the month.
Let’s start with the law… Loans were made available for businesses impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. But if you didn’t understand banking…
As of June 6, the SBA approved more than 4.5 million PPP loans worth $511 billion. In Illinois, there have been 186,337 PPP loans approved for more than $22 billion, according to Rob Scott, administrator for the SBA’s Great Lakes Region.
The SBA currently does not have data on the ethnic or racial demographics of borrowers. But getting information on PPP loans has been a challenge for some small-business owners of color, experts say.
Unnamed, anonymous “experts.” And in the age of the internet, getting information is “a challenge.” Okay.
To be forgiven the bulk of the loan needs to be spent on payroll. Not something a restaurant will always be able to do.
For nearly two weeks, Santoyo conducted her own research to see if her business qualified. Santoyo said there wasn’t enough outreach in Latino communities, and the language barrier kept some of her friends in the business community from applying.
I’m shocked to discover that not speaking English in a predominately English-speaking country is a disadvantage. If only there was some way to learn a foreign language! OK, not really shocked.
So how many “community organizing” groups call Chicago home? Jesse Jackson is there, but for all his “rainbow” talk, I doubt he has much outreach in the Latino community. So, do none of the community organizers have contacts in banking? Do any of the community organizers have outreach to restaurant owners? It looks like the answer to both questions is, “Hell no!” (Maybe someone can tell me what they actually do someday.)
Then there are the riots.
Gomez was getting ready to open for outdoor dining after months of relying on sales from carryout orders when widespread unrest hit the city over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed last month at the hands of Minneapolis police. Several businesses on the South and West Side were hit by looting. The response scared a lot of diners, and Gomez closed early three days, causing sales to drop to 10% of normal pandemic levels.
As I said before, I’m also shocked to discover that rioting is bad for the businesses in the affected neighborhoods, or in the city as a whole. Okay, I’m not that shocked about this either.
But it is really all the fault of the EEEEEVIL bankers. Banks “apparently” helped their established customers first. The horror! (“Hey Fred, this is Tom at First Evil Bank of Chicago. Have you seen the stuff about this new COVID loan program? I think you might qualify.”) That should be a capital offense. Pun intended.
“By having large financial institutions distribute these loans, you are placing these businesses at a disadvantage,” [Ashley Harrington, a federal advocacy director for the Center for Responsible Lending, a Durham, North Carolina-based nonprofit that advocates for fair and inclusive lending] said.
Most business owners of color typically don’t have a prior relationship with a larger bank, she said. Owners had a lot of questions and didn’t know what documents they needed to receive a loan, which held them back as banks were swamped with applications, Harrington said.
Repeat the two questions about community organizers and bankers and restaurateurs here. You get the same answer.
Let me take a guess that Ashley Harrington is the one of (the only?) expert cited above in the anonymous section. And in a story about Chicago restaurants, is the best source you can find in North Carolina? Okay then.