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Greater Rochester Black Business Alliance aims to help Black-owned businesses thrive after pandemic

Greater Rochester Black Business Alliance

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, research shows about 40% of Black-owned businesses closed across the United States.

Rochester wasn't spared, according to David Powe, the new leader of the Greater Rochester Black Business Alliance. But while Black-owned businesses in the region were hurt badly, he's seeing it turn around.

“Now they are in a good position because they figured out how to exist in a digital economy, and brick-and-mortar businesses can reopen or stay open,” Powe said.

The Alliance was established in 2019 to serve as a resource for Black business owners. It adapted its programming last year to help business owners with pandemic-related relief.

Powe said he wants the Alliance to now help Black businesses thrive in the new economy.

 Even as hundreds of thousands of Black-owned businesses were closing for good, many new ones were emerging as people made career shifts, many out of necessity.

Research released in June by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that several cities with predominantly Black populations saw their rate of new business creation increase during the pandemic.

Powe said he’s seeing the same in Rochester, and the Alliance plans to provide programming to support and promote new and existing businesses. Returning later this year is the group's Investor Circle, which is a showcase for business owners who are looking for investors. 

He said fostering economic activity is part of an overall effort to eliminate racism and poverty within the Black community, and they welcome others who want to collaborate for the success of its business members.

“As business people, we know that we can do that through growing our businesses. And if those are issues that people care about in our community, then we have to support our Black businesses,” Powe said.

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.