Budget Spotlight: Equitable Economic Development Programs
Final decisions on the City’s 2021 budget are just one week away. With that in mind, I want to highlight some of the programs I’ve proposed in the budget that help address the challenges we are facing in our community.
One set of programs and investments is focused on advancing equity and reducing disparities in Madison’s small business sector. To overcome the racial disparities we see in business ownership, we must invest in opportunities for entrepreneurs of color along with women, people with low incomes, and other underrepresented groups.
My budget proposes to invest $4.5 million over the next three years in the Small Business Equity & Recovery (SBER) program. This program is currently being launched and includes a suite of programs that help to start, grow, or sustain small businesses owned by underrepresented groups. It can help these entrepreneurs to improve their facades, buy personal protective equipment to stay operational during COVID, and more. Other opportunities within the program include the “BusinessReady” program to help people of color to develop the skills they need to turn their great ideas into a successful business; and the Commercial Ownership Assistance program, which offers forgivable loans to underrepresented small business owners to move from renting space to owning property.
The SBER program is an addition to other ways the City supports entrepreneurs of color. My budget also continues to support the Black and Latino Chambers of Commerce to support their member businesses. The City also continues to support the KIVA loan program to help people step into small business ownership.
In addition, my proposed budget includes funding for workforce training and skill development, a $100,000 expansion in funding for youth employment, job coaching and mentoring, and more.
Budget documents themselves only go so far – they highlight the line-item programs with their own capital needs. But the work that City staff do every day reaches even further. Over the coming months, you’ll hear more about expanded purchasing programs for entrepreneurs of color, Creative Economy support for artists of color, and the City’s support for the development of a Madison-based ACRE program, modeled after a Milwaukee-based program that helps people of color enter the real estate development field.
These are a few ways we are trying to build a Madison that works for everybody. To learn more about these efforts, visit the City’s Business Financial Assistance website. To learn more about the budget the dates for public hearings, visit the City’s Budget website.
And look for more posts about budget highlights next week!