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An Uphill Battle For Charlotte's Black And Latino Businesses

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Joe O'Connor

Lockdowns. Closures. Slow re-openings. The coronavirus pandemic has caused one of the worst recessions in recent history, and while many Americans have felt the impact, the worst damage has been felt in Black and Latino communities.

While only 17% of white-owned businesses closed between February and April nationwide, about 32% of Latino-owned and 41% of Black-owned businesses shuttered permanently.

In Charlotte alone, the number of jobs in hotels, restaurants and bars dropped 29% this year. Approximately 35% of Black-owned restaurants have permanently closed, and many more are only serving takeout or delivery.

Despite initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program, few Black and Latino businesses in Charlotte have been able to actually receive any federal money. This is emblematic of a larger trend, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found minority business owners are more likely to be turned down for a loan than non-minority owners.

As the pandemic drags on, we sit down with some of Charlotte’s Black and Latino business leaders and analysts to understand what is behind these racial disparities and what solutions might lead us towards a more equitable economy.

GUESTS

Dr. Shanté Williams, chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce and member of WFAE’s Community Advisory Board

Rocio Gonzalez, director of Membership and Programs, former executive director for Charlotte’s Latin American Chamber of Commerce

Angelique Gaines, social research specialist for the Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte

Maria Ramirez Uribe, reporter for WFAE

Through this series, we examine the disproportionate financial toll of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities, including how it has affected individuals, families and businesses. READ MORE

Jesse Steinmetz is Assistant Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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