COLUMBUS –State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton), Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), and Black business leaders outlined a proposed initiative that would allocate $300 million of the remaining American Recovery and Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to support minority businesses and organizations across Ohio. Rep. West will introduce the proposed $300 million initiative, named the Equal Opportunity Recovery plan, as an amendment to House Bill (HB) 45, legislation that will appropriate ARPA funding. Today is the last day of scheduled session, and the last opportunity to pass legislation in the 134th General Assembly.
“After working with minority businesses across the state for the past year, I have witnessed firsthand the hardships minority businesses and organizations across Ohio have faced throughout this unprecedented pandemic,” said Rep. West. “It is time that our state provides financial support to help these individuals recover so minority businesses grow and thrive. Undoubtedly, when minority businesses and organizations succeed, our neighborhoods, communities and the entire state of Ohio succeeds.”
The proposed amendment would allocate $300 million to the Department of Development to make grants to minority businesses and organizations to assist in COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts.
Black businesses and communities were disproportionately hurt by the pandemic. In 2020, Black business ownership rates dropped 41% between February and April 2020, the largest rate of any racial group. Prior to the pandemic, Black businesses already faced systemic barriers that made it harder to access capital and other resources needed to successfully start and grow a business. The pandemic exacerbated these inequities, making Black businesses more vulnerable to declines in sales or closures, and it also made it more difficult for Black business owners to access recovery resources.
Darrin Redus, CEO of the Cincinnati-based Minority Business Accelerator, and Tiffany Edwards of the Ohio Collective, also spoke at a press conference hosted by Rep. West yesterday on the need for a targeted approach to connect Black Ohio residents with the federal relief funds needed to help restart Black businesses and organizations.
**EDITOR’S NOTE: Link to press conference announcing the Equal Opportunity Recovery plan.