T’wina Nobles, President & CEO of the Tacoma Urban League. Courtesy of U.S. Bank.

A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have closed permanently due to COVID-19.

Comparatively, just 17 percent of white-owned businesses have seen permanent closures.

That’s why now more than ever the organizations helping the most impacted segments of our business community need our support.

Nonprofits like the Tacoma Urban League have made it their mission to assist local Black and other underserved residents achieve social equality and economic independence. This is one of the reasons that U.S. Bank recently provided the group with a “Community Possible” grant to help fund ongoing efforts to provide critical lifelines and resources to Tacoma’s Black community. These efforts include helping small business owners navigate assistance programs, resources, and local regulations to keep their doors open.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Tacoma Urban League has assisted more than 250 small business owners by providing technical support for everything from loans and grants to securing personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep employees and customers safe. This work is so important that a new full-time staff member at the Tacoma Urban League is now dedicated to helping Black-owned businesses continue navigating funding options.

There is no doubt that assistance for small business owners will continue to be a priority, beyond the pandemic. In fact, 2019 findings highlighted recently in The New York Fed study showed that only 42 percent of Black-owned companies were considered financially healthy based on their credit scores, profitability, and accumulation of net income, versus 73 percent of white-owned businesses.

Elizabeth Cadwallader, U.S. Bank’s Puget Sound Market President. Photo by Powell Photography courtesy of U.S. Bank.

Additionally, the study emphasized that many Black-owned businesses were already in a tough financial spot when the crisis hit, and were less equipped to outlast the prolonged business closures seen in areas with high infection rates.

In addition to supporting small businesses, the Tacoma Urban League’s COVID-19 response has included providing Lyft rides to Pierce County residents who need to pick up groceries or short-term transportation to an essential work site. The group also has been focused on finding and addressing gaps in distance learning for local families, from broadband access to equipment. Recognizing the toll that the ongoing health crisis — paired with social unrest following the tragic death of George Floyd — has taken on so many, the Tacoma Urban League also provided free mental health services to the Black community during the month of August.

U.S. Bank’s support reflects the bank’s focus on listening to and learning from community leaders and responding to critical needs in Tacoma and Pierce County as part of the bank’s Community Possible program, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations committed to the work, home, and play pillars of our communities. By investing in organizations led by people of color and providing general operating funds, U.S. Bank is helping community leaders who know how, when, and where to use these funds for the greatest impact.

U.S. Bank has additionally made a company-wide $116 million commitment to address social and economic inequities, and pledged to double partnerships with Black suppliers in the next 12 months. U.S. Bank will also provide $100 million annually in extra capital to Black-owned and led businesses or organizations. The bank recently launched a $1 million Community Development Financial Institutions partnership program to award grants and commercial loans to organizations that qualify.

Whether it’s the Tacoma Urban League or another organization helping Black-owned businesses keep their doors open, we hope you will join us in supporting leaders and organizations that are driving access to economic mobility.

For more information on the Tacoma Urban League and its small business support services, visit its website.