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Indy Black Chamber of Commerce member: ‘You have to create your own stimulus’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indy Black Chamber of Commerce says it’s seen a 40% increase in Black-owned businesses since the coronavirus pandemic started.

The chamber says it has given out nearly $1 million in funding for startups in 2021.

“I think it’s probably even more intense than motivation. I mean you’re talking about survival,” said George Middleton, a chamber of commerce board member. “You have to create your own stimulus, so to speak.”

Middleton used the pandemic stimulus money has an example of many Black business owners getting passed up for the money by their white counterparts, even though Black owners were most in need of the money. “When the stimulus money came out, our community, which was really what the stimulus money was designed for, was the last on the line to receive a great majority of that stimulus money. Companies that didn’t need it were first in line because they were already in the system with regard to favorability, perception, relationships, access.”

He says the situation newly motivated the Black community to put business in its own hands, with many owners getting creative on their entrepreneurial paths.

“People are stepping up and finding what works for them. What is their best strength? What is the thing that drives them in their passion? And they’re figuring out creative ways to say, you know, I’m just going to make this work.”

Middleton says the chamber has been working hard to be more proactive in its strategies so Black business owners won’t experience the same pandemic trauma in future crises. Black business owners are encouraged to join the Chamber to gain access to networking opportunities, funding and lessons on success.