New Jersey mayors are banding together to raise millions to help Black and brown business owners. Private donors like Shaquille O'Neal to major companies are providing funds; CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.
MAURICE DUBOIS: New Jersey's mayors are banding together to raise millions to help business owners of color.
KRISTINE JOHNSON: Private donors, like Shaquille O'Neal, to major companies are providing funds. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas explains.
ADENAH BAYOH: How is everything here, though?
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Adenah Bayoh has owned restaurants for more than 15 years, starting with an IHOP.
ADENAH BAYOH: I have refinanced my house, emptied out my 401(k) plan, asked anyone in my family that had $2 to give it to me.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Because funding was hard to come by as traditional banks turned her away. Even now, as she owns four IHOPs and three cornbread restaurants.
ADENAH BAYOH: I've always been to community institutions that believe that the vision that I have.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: That's why the New Jersey Farm Fund was created, short for 40 acres and a mule, the original promise made to offer reparations to freed slaves. In this context, it's access to funding for Black and Latinx business owners, started by Newark mayor Ras Baraka.
RAS J. BARAKA: This, obviously, was an idea that was birthed out of the pandemic and the issues that businesses were going through.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Now, the mayors of New Jersey's urban cities, including East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, and Irvington are joining forces. Businesses can receive assistance in the form of grants, loans, and equity stakes. So far, private donors to Fortune 500 companies have contributed $10 million. The goal is 100 million. I asked the mayors, what would success look like? They say preserving these business corridors, already hit hard by the pandemic that the cities cannot afford to lose.
- The last thing we need are empty storefronts.
ADENAH BAYOH: It took them 200 time that effort to get that business open.
AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: More money to level the playing field for those traditionally marginalized and close the gaps. In Newark, New Jersey, Andrea Cline Thomas, CBS2 News.
KRISTINE JOHNSON: Mayor Baraka says that he is going to reach out to Governor Murphy to ask for his support. Meantime, the first round of funding will be distributed within the next six weeks. And we'll put more information on our website, cbsnewyork.com.