It is no news that the coronavirus crisis has disproportionately hurt small businesses. As top elected officials finally decide on how to provide financial relief for small businesses, and how much assistance the government will allocate to them, those who were most affected by the immediate economic and social effects of the Coronavirus have been black-owned businesses.
So how can black-owned businesses put their business in a more secure position to stay strong and recover faster once the crisis subsides? Martin Ekechukwu, a serial entrepreneur and Co-founder of WHTWRKS, a marketing company that works with small business brands and prepares them for international expansion and 10x growth, recommends these strategies to help black-owned businesses recover faster.
- Adapt quickly and furiously to survive. If you’re a restaurant owner who has been forced to closed, make sure you are well equipped for delivery services. Get a website up quickly or develop a partnership with another complimentary foodservice business to expand your offerings.
- If you’re a marketing and creative content company, modify your offerings to make it all about digital services, influencer content, or ideation. Figure out what costs you the least to do and do more of it. Ideation is the cheapest thing to do and sell – figure out how to bring a POV that is unique and sellable.
- Connect with your supportive community through technology. There are sites and apps dedicated to rallying around black-owned businesses during this crisis. For example, Offical Black Wall Street is a directory of Black-owned businesses across the globe created to encourage individuals to circulate money in the Black community. Also, Strivers Row project lists dozens of black-owned businesses in New York City.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE of the stimulus package. The new bill provides federally guaranteed loans to small businesses that pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans would be available during the emergency period and would be forgiven if businesses continue to pay workers for the duration of the crisis.
Additionally, on Tuesday, March 31st, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (EST), Martin, alongside Fallon Ukpe (Zeal Capital Partners) and Owen May (MD Global Partners), will be hosting a free virtual fireside chat about what businesses can do to manage through the Coronavirus crisis.
Where to turn for help
Madison, WI – Wisconsinites are encountering a whole new set of legal issues and concerns related to the new coronavirus and COVID-19:
- placement arrangements when one parent has been exposed to the coronavirus and the other has not;
- workplace safety questions;
- unforeseen medical bills and consumer debt;
- unemployment benefits;
- powers of attorney;
- landlord-tenant issues, including evictions; and
- real estate sales and home foreclosures.
While many free legal clinics are closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Wisconsin residents can turn to a State Bar of Wisconsin-supported web portal – Wisconsin Free Legal Answers – where Wisconsin lawyers answer civil (not criminal) legal questions.
Clients go through an online screening process to establish financial eligibility and agree to the limited scope of the assistance provided. All communications between lawyers and clients are confidential and take place through a secure website. Clients receive an email notification when an attorney responds to their question.
“We have 250 volunteer lawyers who are ready to answer questions, and we anticipate a surge in questions as the public experiences the impact of the coronavirus in their work and personal lives,” said Jeff Brown, State Bar pro bono manager.
In 2019, Wisconsin Free Legal Answers volunteers responded to nearly 1,000 questions. Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is a project of the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission and is supported by the State Bar of Wisconsin. It is part of the national ABA Free Legal Answers network.
As a public service, the State Bar of Wisconsin also offers a Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), 800-362-9082, to help individuals determine whether they need a lawyer, and provide referrals to appropriate attorneys and appropriate government or community resources. The service is also available online. Attorneys referred through LRIS agree to charge no more than $20 for the first consultation, up to one half hour.
Washington, DC – In response to the Trump administration’s sweeping waiver of environmental enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic, Moms Clean Air Force co-founder and senior director Dominique Browning issued the following statement:
“This is the kind of cynical, shameful and dangerous approach we see over and over from Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency. How dare they take advantage of a pandemic to relax pollution rules? This is when we should be tightening up health protections. Moms are furious.
“At a time when America is under assault from the deadly coronavirus, President Trump has looked the other way to tell companies that they will not face enforcement if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws. All they have to do is claim that failure to comply can be tied to the coronavirus pandemic. That the Trump administration would shamelessly exploit the coronavirus crisis to advance its radical goal of dismantling environmental protections is simply outrageous.
“Air pollution reduces our body’s ability to fight infection; pollution from power plants and trucks and cars is also one of the causes of the underlying heart and lung problems that make people more vulnerable to Covid-19. What Trump is doing is making Americans even more vulnerable to disease, at a time when our nation’s health is on the line. Our more than 1 million members are outraged that our public health safety net is being unraveled by an EPA taking advantage of the pandemic.”
About Moms Clean Air Force: Moms Clean Air Force is a community of over one million moms—and dads—working together to fight air pollution, including the urgent crisis of our changing climate. Learn more at www.momscleanairforce.org, or follow us on Twitter @CleanAirMoms, Instagram @cleanairmoms, or Facebook.
MILWAUKEE – County Supervisor Felesia Martin urged residents of the 7th district to follow state and local emergency orders meant to combat the spread of the coronavirus, in a statement released Thursday.
“We know these are frightening and uncertain times, but if we all follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the City of Milwaukee Health Department we can get through this together,” said Martin. “I urge the residents of the 7th supervisory district and all Milwaukee County residents to stay at home unless it is absolutely essential. We all need to do our part to stay healthy, like frequently washing our hands and following the social distancing guidelines of keeping a six-foot separation between yourself and other people – even if you’re just talking to your neighbor on the sidewalk in front of your house.”
Supervisor Martin also wants residents to know they must be pre-screened prior to being seen at St. Joe’s drive-through testing site which is located in her district.
“The mobile testing sites at St. Joe’s are by appointment-only, which means you must be pre-screened by an Ascension Medical Group provider. You can get pre-screened over the phone by calling 833-981-0711, or online at ascension.org/OnlineCare. Ascension Healthcare has said that no one will have to pay for COVID-19-related testing or treatment at St. Joe’s,” said Martin
To help clarify emergency guidelines, Milwaukee County launched a public education initiative called “Stay Home MKE” today, in an effort to better communicate to the public about how they can stay healthy and safe, and reduce the rate of transmission.
Resident can also visit the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services web site for more information on Safer at Home, the Governor’s latest emergency order.
- Monday, March 23rd – For the Love of our Children: Count Black Kids Day-Encouraging Black families to count their children, especially those historically undercounted—children ages 0-5
- Tuesday, March 24th – My Brother’s Keeper: Count Black Men Day
- Wednesday, March 25th – Sister Power: Count Black Women and Families Day **(A Black Women’s Twitter Town Hall will take place starting at 1:00 p.m., EST)
- Thursday, March 26th – Country of Origin Matters: Count Black Immigrants Day
- Friday, March 27th – The Power Is in Your Hands and Celebrating Our Diversity: Count Black Youth & Count LGBTQ+ Day
- Saturday, March 28th -The Wisdom of Our Elders and Our Work Matters: Count Seniors and Count Black Workers Day
- Sunday, March 29th – Faith in Action: Black Census Count Sunday
Legislation introduced by Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs urges a state law change to establish a moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts, as well as a look at allowing certain city positions to qualify for hazardous duty pay.
Alderwoman Coggs, chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee, said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major negative financial impact on small businesses and individuals, with many Milwaukee businesses being required to close per official order and residents forced out of work because of stay-at-home and required closure orders across all sectors.
Currently, state statutes govern the billing and collection of property taxes, as well as delinquent tax interest and penalties (and currently recognize no exceptions for their assessment). Her legislation would authorize the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division to urge the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Evers to pass legislation that would establish a set time period moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts.
The Alderwoman’s effort would dovetail with that of City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, who on March 20 sent a letter to the Governor and state legislative leaders, urging the passage of legislation that would establish a set time period moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts.
“These are unprecedented times as workers find themselves furloughed and businesses and individuals being unable to meet their financial obligations, including paying their property taxes,” Alderwoman Coggs said.
“With the devastating and sudden loss of income being felt across the board, I believe individual property taxpayers and beleaguered small businesses impacted by the pandemic would benefit from the relief of not having to pay interest and penalties on property tax accounts,” she said.
A second legislative file introduced by Alderwoman Coggs would require the Department of Employee Relations to look at establishing hazardous duty pay for “essential” city workers. Currently, “essential” city employees across the city workforce are required to report to their work locations during the COVID-19 pandemic, while “non-essential” city workers are asked to stay and (in some cases) work from home.
“I believe this is an issue of fairness and one that we need to look at closely, especially with the likelihood that the ‘stay home’ orders could be in effect for many weeks if not months to come,” Alderwoman Coggs said.
The measure could come before the Finance and Personnel Committee when it meets on April 9 at City Hall.
Measure Does Not Allow Voters to Participate Safely During the COVID-19 Outbreak
MADISON – Today the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed litigation in federal court seeking to protect the rights of self-quarantining voters who cannot safely obtain a witness signature on their mail-in ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we appreciate the efforts by the state to expand voting in light of the pandemic, the Wisconsin law requiring a witness signature for every absentee ballot presents an unreasonable barrier to voters that does nothing to increase the safety of casting a ballot,” said Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “Not addressing this particular measure complicates the process for the voters of Wisconsin and would have the impact of depressing turnout or unnecessarily exposing vulnerable voters.”
The League is represented in this lawsuit by Fair Elections Center and Rathje Woodward LLC and is joined by Wisconsin Alliance of Retired Americans and individuals affected by the law.
“It is unconscionable – and unconstitutional – to force people to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Jon Sherman, senior counsel at Fair Election Center. “In the face of a global pandemic and emergency orders mandating self-isolation, a state law requirement to obtain a witness signature on a mail-in ballot simply cannot stand.”
The League and other plaintiffs are asking the Court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would prevent the State of Wisconsin from rejecting and/or refusing to process and count absentee mail-in ballots that lack a witness signature during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheduled primary on April 7 would not otherwise be impacted.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As people nationwide deal with the spread of the coronavirus, People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network released a collection of online resources today, to provide support and guidance to local government leaders who protect the health and safety of the communities they serve. There are also additional resources on the site to help elected officials with self-care and mental health.
The centerpiece of the resource page is a database of policies that YEO members have introduced or are in the process of introducing to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.
“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis and members of our young elected officials network are deeply concerned,” said Raquel Jones, YEO Network’s Program Manager. “We assessed the impact of state and federal responses to this national health emergency and wanted to equip our members with the vital support and information necessary to keep their constituents and communities safe.”
The YEO Network includes more than 1,300 members and alumni across the country, serving their communities and fighting for progressive values in offices ranging from local school boards to the United States Congress. Its membership is 39 percent women, 78 percent people of color, and 14 percent LGBTQ*. Program members and alumni include Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, former HUD secretary Julián Castro and Congressman Joaquin Castro, and former Georgia state legislator and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.
The Network’s resource specifically focuses on:
- Working family policies, including moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs, rent control and mortgage relief;
- Schools and children;
- Small business relief;
- Voting Rights and Democracy reform; and
- New recommendations from public health experts about slowing down the spread of the virus and other responses that protect the most vulnerable.
It also offers ways YEOs can assist those facing unique challenges, including low-wage workers, the uninsured, and communities of color who already experience health care disparities.
YEO is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Because of the coronavirus, the Network has postponed its 15th Annual National Convening, which was scheduled in Atlanta for late April. Throughout this anniversary year, YEO is creating virtual, social distance-friendly ways for members to share information, learn and engage, while also planning contingencies for other 2020 programming, including Regional YEO Mixers, a 2020 Women’s Fellowship, a special Policy Academy, and its Front Line Leaders Academy, a six-month training program for aspiring community leaders. Next month, it will announce the recipients of the YEO Network’s “35 Under 35” award to honor passionate progressives currently holding office who are dedicated to building freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.
About the Young Elected Officials Network
The Young Elected Officials Network (YEO) was founded in 2005 with the mission to unite and support elected officials ages 35 and under who share a passion for building communities that reflect values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity for all.
A program of, by, and for young, passionate progressives holding elected office across the country, the YEO Network is committed to policy aligned with our vision for a fair, just society. The YEO Network provides cutting edge programming, investing in the full pipeline of progressive leadership and building sustained relationships with our members. We provide the resources young elected officials need to effectively impact policy, foster their own development and professional growth, and elevate their leadership in the broader progressive movement.
Small businesses in Milwaukee face significant challenges as a result of Covid-19. Crucial public health precautions have temporarily closed many businesses, and those that remain open face restrictions that impact their bottom lines.
The Milwaukee Department of City Development is maintaining an online resource directory to assist businesses to identify the help that may be available. The webpage is a compilation of local, state, and federal programs; it also provides information on financial support, operational support, and a link to the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s page for public health rules and recommendations.
The resource directory can be reached at city.milwaukee.gov/DCD/
“Small local businesses are extremely important to the Milwaukee economy, and, for many, the challenges presented by the spread of Covid-19 can threaten their existence,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “I want every available tool to be used to support our small businesses, and that’s why we are compiling and publicizing this city resource page.”
The resource directory has been put together and maintained by the DCD Commercial Corridors Team. Updates are made to the page as additional information is available. The directory includes summaries and links to a wide range of programs. It also provides information in Spanish.
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