Reimagine Main Street exists for one pivotal reason: to ensure that minority-owned businesses rebound after the economic downturn that came with COVID-19. The multi-stakeholder, cross-sector initiative is focused on advancing and uplifting innovative solutions via dialogue and data. Last week the project of the Public Private Strategies Institute, convened a virtual roundtable with small business advocates, lenders, and policymakers. 

As part of the event, Reimagine Main Street heard insights from senior business, advocacy, and government leaders and released new data and key findings from a survey of 2500+ minority small business owners that spoke to general trust and access to capital. Two years after PPP, these holders still find it increasingly difficult to find their financial footing, putting many in jeopardy of shuttering their businesses.

“Small businesses and their workers must rebound from the COVID-19 crisis so that communities thrive and the benefits ripple throughout the economy,” said a spokesperson with Reimagine Main Street. In doing so they have centered the MLK Boulevards, Cesar Chavez Ways, Chinatowns and Main Streets across the United States that continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. 

It is no secret that COVID-19 had a disproportionate financial impact on Black small businesses. And a 2021 McKinsey study found that Black businesses face an unequal path to recovery. Even prior to the pandemic, Black business owners found it difficult to access the capital so readily available to their white counterparts in entrepreneurship, struggling to pursue those ideas that could put them on the path to their own take on financial stability. 

The Reimagine Main Street survey underscored this reality, finding that nearly half of small business owners, and more small business owners of color, lack confidence in their ability to fund an unplanned $5,000 business expense. At the same time, the survey found a strong level of small business trust in the Small Business Administration (SBA), which data analysts suggest bucks the trend of waning trust in government institutions and pointing to public-private partnerships with the SBA as a potential solution to help Main Street. 
“Government has an exciting opening to use its unprecedented reach and newfound trust among small- business owners to partner and connect Main Street entrepreneurs to sources of capital and guidance that can help them grow, hire and achieve their American Dream,” says business owners Rhett Buttle, Ron Busby Sr., Ramiro A. Cavazos, Tammy Halevy and Chiling Tong, who published a collective op-ed in advance of the event. “Let’s seize it.”