As 2020 comes to a close...
There is much that could be written about this surreal, traumatic year. We have suffered the loss of nearly 340,000 people in the U.S. alone, and that number continues to rise, although the arrival of the vaccine has brought a ray of hope on the public health side.
But there is another form of devastation that has taken place in every community across America and that is the loss of small businesses. These are the businesses that donate to support youth soccer, they get to know their customers’ names, and they provide livelihoods for those small business owners and their families. It could be the small retail shop down the way or the restaurant you frequent when you are too tired to cook. It could be the dog groomer who has taken care of your pet for the last few years or the hairstylist you’ve gone to for years.
Nationally, it has been estimated that over 40% of small businesses will not survive this pandemic; the Sacramento Region faces similar excruciating losses across the board. In Sacramento County alone, we have nearly 110,000 businesses and nearly 40% of those are owned by women or people of color. Collectively, these numbers are staggering, but it is the individual stories that truly share the heartbreak experienced by many of our small business owners.
The Sacramento Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative (Sac IEDC) has worked the past ten months to support our small businesses in any way we could. Whether it be helping to fill out a form, or placing a phone call to provide assistance, or walking the neighborhoods to check on how the business owners are doing. Our fifteen partner organizations have banded together and worked tirelessly to provide the expertise, access, and even a shoulder to lean on, sometimes.
Since September, the Sac IEDC has (at the time of this writing), registered 564 businesses in our program, primarily those located in aging commercial corridors in the City of Sacramento. Collectively, the group has worked nearly 3,600 hours to meet our minority-owned, small business owners right where they needed help. From providing translation for those whom English is not their primary language to helping businesses set up emails and create a digital presence so they can attract more business, to educating business owners on how to best weather the financial impacts that COVID-19 brought upon them – this is exactly the work that the Sac IEDC performs day in, day out. And I couldn’t be prouder of our partners or the small business owners fighting to survive.
While we do not know what 2021 will bring, I am certain of this. Our road to recovery will be difficult but our resiliency, determination, and teamwork will make all the difference.
Wishing everyone a safe and bright New Year.
Sacramento Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative