Minority-owned business owners last in line for federal funding, data shows

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Now that a new stimulus bill has been passed and signed, small businesses will again be seeking paycheck protection program loans.

But a review of the initial Paycheck Protection Program has uncovered a disturbing trend. It appears minority-owned businesses got the short end of the stick.

Rikki Renz, who owns the AR Workshop in Chestnut Hill, lives for DIY home projects. These days her creativity means hustling.

"If you're not hustling in this pandemic, then it's just not in you. If you haven't figured out how to juggle 10 things at one time and be creative automatically, you won't survive," Renz said.

She purchased her shop two years ago. People can come and make beautiful artwork for their home. She was so successful she was hoping it could be her primary job, but with the pandemic, she still works two jobs.

"It's still scary. I'm not in a comfortable spot," Renz said.

She applied for a PPP loan. The federal assistance for small businesses began in April and ended in early August. Quinn didn't get her loan until the end of July, months after she applied.

"The loan that I got was only $5,000 from PPP, but again these are loans," she added.

Many minority-owned businesses were last in line to receive federal funding. The Action News Data Journalism Team reviewed Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program data, which found over the entire course of the program, in Philadelphia, only six loans were approved for every 1,000 people in minority neighborhoods. On the other hand, 23 loans were approved for every 1,000 people in predominantly white neighborhoods. That's four times the rate of loans approved for white neighborhoods.

"I feel as business owners we should have also had a stimulus," Renz said.

On the flip side, we spoke with another Black-owned business who did receive PPP at the beginning of the pandemic. But the gym owner says the amount was disturbing.

"It was based on a formula and was based on four employees and times a certain number, and it was like $1,200. It was nothing," said S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Studios Owner Debra Williams.

She says leasing equipment for S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Studios runs her $1,500 a month. To make ends meet she offers virtual training.

But for minority businesses in which 75% were closed for months during the pandemic, the name of the game is hustle.

"If your goal is to not be a small business COVID statistic, you're going to do whatever you got to do," Rikki Renz said.
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