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Bolstering Immigrant and Minority-Owned Small Businesses Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Event - May 2020

Bolstering Immigrant and Minority-Owned Small Businesses Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

On May 28th, the Center for an Urban Future held a virtual policy forum to delve into the specific challenges facing immigrant and minority-owned businesses as a result of the pandemic, and explore what can be done to provide the greatest immediate support for these companies.

Tags: entrepreneurship immigrants economic opportunity

"Bolstering Immigrant and Minority-Owned Small Businesses Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic"
A Center for an Urban Future Virtual Policy Symposium

May 28, 2020
10:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

To view a replay of the online symposium, access the video here


Immigrant-and minority-owned businesses make up an outsized share of all businesses in New York City, employ hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and contribute to the economic vibrancy and character of neighborhoods in every corner of the city. But the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many of these businesses. Some have already shut their doors permanently, while many more are hanging on by a thread. While immigrant-and minority-owned firms are far from the only businesses struggling to survive this crisis, they were less likely to have cash reserves before the pandemic hit, and a large share operate in the city’s hardest-hit industries—including restaurants, retail, and personal care. These businesses have also faced significantly greater challenges accessing government relief, including the Paycheck Protection Program, which threatens their ability to rebound as the economy reopens.

This solutions-oriented discussion delved into the specific challenges facing immigrant and minority-owned businesses and explore what can be done to help these firms get through this crisis. The first in a three-part virtual forum series, the live-streamed discussion examined what interventions city and state policymakers, nonprofit practitioners, private sector leaders, and New York consumers can make to boost this vital part of the city’s economy. 

CUF executive director Jonathan Bowles moderated the discussions, which included the following panelists:

Panel 1: What's Needed to Bolster Immigrant & Minority-Owned Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic

  • Mohamed Attia, Executive Director, Street Vendor Project
  • David Estrada, Executive Director, Sunset Park Business Improvement District
  • Lissarette Nisnevich, Founder, Pequeñines NYC
  • Yanki Tshering, Executive Director, Business Center for New Americans
  • Tren’ness Woods-Black, VP of Communications, Sylvia's Restaurant; President, Tren'ness Woods-Black, LLC 

Panel 2: How NYC & NYS Government Can Help Bolster Immigrant & Minority-Owned Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic

  • Jonnel Doris, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services
  • Ron Kim, Member, NYS Assembly
  • Ben Kallos, Member, NYC Council
  • Shaun McDougall, Head of Wealth & Retail Business Banking, HSBC Bank USA 

A video of the full discussion is available here.

This symposium was made possible through generous support from HSBC. We are also grateful for general support from The Clark Foundation and the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation, and ongoing support from a number of other philanthropic funders.