Wells Fargo Targets Small, Minority-Owned Businesses With Recovery Grants

The multinational bank Wells Fargo has announced a $2.6 million small business recovery grant to assist minority owned businesses in Southern California affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles Daily News reports the fund is part of Wells Fargo’s Open For Business Fund Program. The program is part of a $400 million small business recovery effort to help entrepreneurs recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus.

The Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corp. has received $2.1 million from the program and will use it to establish a People of Color Business Elevation Fund to help businesses by providing low-rate micro disaster loans of up to $50,000 to eligible small businesses.

Genesis LA, a Community Development Financial Institution, received $550,000 from the program and will use the funds to provide flexible and forgivable loans to small and minority businesses in Los Angeles County.

Gregg Sherkin, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of social impact and sustainability, told the Daily News that despite government intervention, businesses in L.A. are still struggling.

“L.A. County is home to more than 1.3 million small businesses and many are diversity owned,” he said. “We know these people provide the majority of jobs, but tens of thousands of these enterprises are at a significant risk and many are located in moderate- to low-income communities. We want to do whatever we can to support them.”

Although lawmakers passed a second coronavirus stimulus fund, which includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funds, small and minority businesses are still struggling as the pandemic moves closer to its one year anniversary.

A small business poll conducted in October 2020 showed 60% of minority owned businesses will close by April 2021 without some type of aid whether it be federal or otherwise.

The coronavirus pandemic is still growing and hurting Americans. Although two vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it’s still being given only to the most vulnerable communities and medical staffs across the country. Additionally, the rollout of the vaccine has been slow.