By Will Martin
Candidate for Wisconsin Lt. Governor
Federal statistics indicate over 40% of Black-owned businesses did not survive the COVID-19 shutdown. In fact, Black-owned businesses closed permanently at more than twice the rate of their White counterparts. On too many streets in our communities, storefronts remain empty where businesses once served and employed our neighbors.
So, how can we turn this situation around, and get Black businesses going and growing again? Our business leaders have to have the ability to get to the money they need, or greater access to capital, as the financial analysts would say.
Long before COVID- 19, Black entrepreneurs and business owners had difficulty getting the investment and loans they needed to start, maintain, and grow their companies. COVID-19 shutdowns made the situation for Black-owned businesses so much worse. Added to that, the worst inflation in over 40 years is taking a tremendous toll.
The good news…the officials we choose to elect can make a significant difference if they have lived the life of a small business owner, have experience making government programs work for our people, and have a heart for our community.
I am calling on Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Barnes to direct the State of Wisconsin to deposit $50 million in Columbia Savings & Loan. State government deposits billions of our tax dollars in majority-owned financial institutions. How much of our state funds are deposited in Wisconsin’s only Black-owned bank? Zero.
What difference would depositing state money in a Black-owned bank make? Quite a bit, actually.
More money deposited in the bank allows the bank to make more loans…loans to our entrepreneurs and business owners. Bankers who live and work in our communities are more likely to work with our entrepreneurs and business owners to find financial solutions. This will be a good start to increasing the amount of money available to support our startups and businesses.
Governor Evers received over $3 BILLION in federal funding to address the impacts of COVID-19. I am also calling on the Governor and Lt. Governor Barnes to release immediately at least $25 million in these federal funds for technical assistance to our chambers of commerce and other business associations, so they can begin helping more entrepreneurs and business owners to get back on their feet and solid financial footing.
Our entrepreneurs and small business owners need action…now. With every day that passes, we risk more empty storefronts, fewer customers and employed neighbors, and less hope for our future. This is the time to put experience, leadership… and money…to work.
Will Martin is a candidate to become Wisconsin’s next Lt. Governor. In addition to being a small business owner for 20 years and having consulted government and private sector agencies in Great Britain, The Netherlands, Israel, Germany, and Ireland, Martin has served in multiple senior leadership roles for Governors Thompson and Walker.