Huge Enterprise Sideline: Low-Revenue Entrepreneurs Might Assist Brooklyn’s Economic system Recuperate – How Can The Metropolis Assist Them?
A two-part panel on low-income entrepreneurship in Brooklyn organized by the Center for an Urban Future included LaToya Meaders from Collective Fare, Camille Newman from Brooklyn Women’s Business Center, Chymeka Olfonse from BUILD NYC, and La-Shawn Allen-Muhammad from Central Brooklyn EDC and Ras Omeil Morgan from iaRas iTal.
Entrepreneurship and self-employment might be key to economic recovery in Brooklyn’s low-income communities, but supporting the effort is no easy task.
Despite some strong increases in recent times, the unemployment rate in Brooklyn stands at a staggering 11.3%, one of the highest rates in the state and more than three times what it was before the pandemic. The city lost a record 631,000 jobs last year. And while many of the lost jobs in the disproportionately low wage and service sectors will return at some point, most experts say the process could take years.
Additionally, new research by the Think Tanks Center for an Urban Future (CUF) has found that many of New Yorkers hardest hit by job loss are also the most vulnerable to automation. This trend is being accelerated by the pandemic, which could displace even more workers in the coming years.
In this context, CUF convened a series of meetings to examine how entrepreneurship and self-employment can provide an alternative route to economic recovery in low-income communities. A recent panel on “Promoting and Supporting Low Income Entrepreneurship in Brooklyn” featured Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, State Assembly member Mathylde Frontus, and a collection of local business promoters and small business owners.
All panelists at the Brooklyn event agreed that more the city and state can do to help low-income New Yorkers start and grow businesses. However, their opinions on how best to achieve this have varied.
Flatbush Avenue. Eve. Liena Zagare / Bklyner
Thompson, for example, seemed less interested in starting new businesses than figuring out how to grow existing businesses.
“When the community is low on money to begin with, serving coffee to each other doesn’t get us very far in terms of entrepreneurship,” Thompson said. “We need companies that connect with other parts of the economy and have money.”
He said there were already 10,000 minority or women-owned companies registered with the city, and cited several industries that “Brooklyn already has color companies” that could be scaled up with access to larger private and public sector contracts would be granted. These include: long-term health care and telemedicine, production of electric cars, retrofitting of environmentally friendly buildings, broadband and housing infrastructure.
These industries could be receiving sizable cash from President Joe Biden’s recent pandemic bailout and proposed infrastructure spending plan, and Brooklyn could be poised to take advantage of it.
“A lot of black and brown people are very familiar with entrepreneurship,” Thompson said. “It’s in your veins. That’s how people survived. We know how to do it. The problem is growth. If we are to build companies that are capable of truly transforming people’s lives on a large scale, we need to be in the sectors where we are not currently getting big business. “
A two-part panel on low-income entrepreneurship in Brooklyn organized by the Center for an Urban Future included Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson and Congregation member Mathylde Frontus.
However, Frontus, who covers part of southern Brooklyn and unveiled a 6-Point Economic Mobility Plan earlier this year that offers “entrepreneurship training, workshops and one-on-one consultations” for those looking to start a business, said the Government still has a role to play in setting up businesses.
“If you’re talking about people who need to start, talk about my side of town now,” she said. “That’s what we see here in south Brooklyn.”
She said the government should increase funding for nonprofits that provide grants to aspiring entrepreneurs and offer “a whole pipeline” of services, “starting with the startup cost, being able to mentor, being able to to help with the fees we would have. ” I want to get rid of it to be completely honest and to serve as an incubator. “
“We have to get people on the move, and that’s the first step.”
The need for the city to fund more one-on-one technical support was also emphasized by several of the business leaders, including Camille Newman of the Brooklyn Women’s Business Center.
“It’s not just seed capital” that low-income entrepreneurs are hard to come by, Newman said. “Holding hands is not a bad thing” because low-income entrepreneurs may try to learn the mechanics of running a business while juggling multiple jobs and family responsibilities.
La’Shawn Allen-Muhammad of the Central Brooklyn EDC praised the city’s Brownsville Plan and the state’s Vital Brooklyn Plan as worthy investments in Brooklyn infrastructure, but said the low-income neighborhoods of Brooklyn need more “investment in people.” .
Many organizations in the community, she said, know how to help low-income entrepreneurs overcome many hurdles and generate income in starting new businesses, but there isn’t enough funding to help everyone who needs them.
She cited her organization’s OWN Brownsville initiative, a COVID-19 response, in which she said “ownership, wealth creation and networking” are paramount.
“We are not funded to run a comprehensive program,” she said.
The panel also consisted of two entrepreneurs who have benefited from investing in such programs: Ras Omeil Morgan, who developed the iaRas iTal health food store, and Latoya Meaders of Collective Fare, a Brownsville-based education and catering company operated by Brownsville Community Culinary Center Out of Operations (BCCC) that has used grants and partnerships to transition to an emergency food service during the pandemic.
“We start our sideline jobs, they grow into businesses, they grow into great things with the right guidance, the right partnerships and the right resources,” said Meaders.