The Downtown Springfield Association partnered with US Bank to announce five Black-owned businesses as the winners of the ASCEND diversity small business grants.
At the efactory on Tuesday, five businesses came out to be recognized as the grant recipients: Eway Scooters, Jamaican Patty, MD Hair Supplies, Mimi’s Soul Food and Bell’s Marketing Consultant.
Before the recipients were presented, executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association Rusty Worley and Minorities in Business executive director Darline Mabins spoke on how this could really help Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs in Springfield.
Mabins told the News-Leader that she believes if this is something that is consistently done or other grants and opportunities like this start becoming available in Springfield it will absolutely help Black business owners.
“I don’t necessarily think that small businesses are looking for a hand out, they just need a hand up to be able to sustain themselves locally,” Mabins said.
Out of 31 applications, the chosen five Black-owned businesses were each awarded $5,000 grants from the US Bank Foundation. This opportunity was launched this year with a new partnership between US Bank and the Downtown Springfield Association.
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The Downtown Springfield Association said in an earlier news release the motivation for the grant program was that downtown Springfield and the adjoining neighborhoods is one of the most diverse places in southwest Missouri with a population that is 21 percent BIPOC, but less than 5 percent of businesses in downtown Springfield are BIPOC-owned.
“At US Bank, we’re committed to increasing wealth building opportunities and serving diverse communities,” said Debra Yeager, US Bank business banking sales manager in a news release.
The quality of the grant applicants was amazing. Their commitment to bring their businesses and customers to the downtown/C-Street area and the excitement they felt to network with others was truly inspiring.”
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“I think that we are at a disadvantage, so every single opportunity that we have as a minority business owners to get funds or any kind of resources will definitely help Springfield,” said Powell, the owner of Jamaican Patty.
The grants were awarded based on the identified needs of the new businesses and in conjunction with existing resources from the Springfield Finance & Development Corporation, city of Springfield and other community organizations. This grant program is limited to new and expanding businesses with storefront locations in Center City.
Ralph Green is a business reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Contact him at RAGreen@gannett.com, by phone: (417-536-4061) or on Twitter at RalphGreenNL