HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. economy shrank more in 2020 than at any other time in the last 74 years.
A government report released Thursday blames the COVID-19 pandemic for the loss of thousands of businesses and more jobs.
That’s especially true for small businesses and Black-owned businesses
A Huntsville small business owner explained how tough things have been for many in the African American community.
“It’s just been a nightmare,” said Jeff Johnson, owner of The Magic Touch Barber Shop. “I mean, trying to even, you know when everything just shut down just abruptly. My customers, 40 percent, just didn’t come back.”
Starting a Black-owned business was hard before the pandemic, Johnson said.
“Just even starting from the beginning of the struggles is more or less getting a loan, trying to get loans, trying to get the money for a Black business and it’s just hard. It’s hard sometimes,” he said.
African American owned businesses were some of the last in line to get assistance from the government’s coronavirus relief, data reported by the Paycheck Protection Program.
“It messes with your mind trying to make things work, trying to keep going, afloat, so I see when some businesses just quit and give up because they don’t have the resources,” Johnson said.
There’s no official count of how many Black-owned businesses have closed in the Huntsville area since March, but Huntsville Metro Black Chamber President Jerry Mitchell says none of the Chamber’s 200 businesses have closed.
Mitchel says Black business owners are resilient.
“You know you’re going to have to fight claw scratch and struggle,” Mitchell said. “That’s part of the nature. One, you know, you’re a minority business so you come out of the gate with not the same resources that others may have.”
With recent data on the struggling U.S. economy, all small businesses will likely struggle a little while longer.
Mitchel says there are many resources available to black business owners in Alabama.
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