African-American businesses in Utah face challenges; support is available - First Utah Bank | Personal Banking | Business Banking | Treasury Management | Loans
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African-American businesses in Utah face challenges; support is available

While there has been a recent groundswell of support, it’s still a truism that businesses owned by African-Americans in Utah face struggles and need more support. The current financial climate has been rough on many small businesses, but minority-owned businesses in particular are feeling the struggles.

The good news is there is a new place where business owners can turn to find more support and ideas to help fuel a boost in fortunes. The Utah Black Chamber of Commerce has secured $60,000 to develop the Black Success Center, which aims to support businesses during this unpredictable time in the Beehive State’s history.

In addition to the support available from the Black Success Center, all small businesses can benefit from programs First Utah Bank provides, including term loans that can be used for a variety of different needs.

Finding avenues of support

The Provo Daily Herald recently went in depth on how the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce has been fostering more opportunities for minority businesses. James Jackson III, the chamber’s founder and executive director, explained: 

“We began this journey to not only foster a more diverse workforce in our state, and a more inclusive atmosphere for Black Utahns, but to bring more value to our members to improve and expand their businesses.” Now, the chamber has more than 200 members across the state, becoming a strong influence in the business world.

The organization reaches beyond African-American businesses, as it is also committed to supporting the chambers for LGBTQ+, Hispanic and Asian entrepreneurs.

Two members of the chamber know first-hand how challenges exist. Cameron Williams is the founder and CEO of EverWork, while Karen Rodriguez is the CEO of Code in Color. Both business owners also work for other firms – Williams as director of diversity engagement for Domo and Rodriguez as PR manager for Podium.

Each noted that building their own businesses brought up challenges. Williams particularly stated that African Americans who want to start a new venture often need to ward off fears that systemic racism will make owning a business too difficult. Rodriguez pointed out that there is a divide between the sexes as well, noting that less than . 2% of venture capital funding goes to female-owned black businesses. Part of this, Rodriguez says, is from a perception that needs changing.

“When a woman decides that she does not want to be submissive but rather wants to ask for something in the same way or same manner that a man would ask for things, she is seen as an aggressor,” Rodriguez said in the Herald article. “We need to be able to dismantle those ideas so that women don’t have to find a different language to speak, but rather they are emboldened to speak the same language and ask for things freely and to be able to make it into the room to ask for them.”

How Utah consumers can do more to help



There are signs, though, that minority businesses are among those which can see an uptick or further success post-COVID-19. One stat Giles Boyd, a chamber member and the CEO of Protocol, cites in the article is that diverse businesses make 30% more profit on average than ones with less diversity. It then becomes paramount for businesses of all types to have more employees of color.

Recent efforts to elevate the voices of African American artists, business owners and civic leaders will also help bring about more knowledge about these businesses and likely more support from customers. The three entrepreneurs from the chamber acknowledged that even increased support of non-profits which help minorities can boost all businesses.

While it may be a time when more black-owned businesses are in the spotlight, it’s important for consumers and fellow business owners to remember that this type of support is needed during every time of the year.

“It’s not about just reaching out to your black colleagues or friends in these types of times or in times of calamity,” Williams said. “It’s about continuing those relationships, seeking those relationships, building those relationships ongoing from now into the future.”

Ways lending options help with continued Utah business success

When the need for more funding becomes a necessity, especially as a business progresses further, First Utah Bank can be there as an understanding guide to the ways these solutions can help with the needs of small businesses.

Term loans are one way to purchase assets that can help you keep your business on track or that can be used as a set amount of money to fit a specific need as it develops. Among the many options for term loans that would make sense for a small business are business debt consolidation, investment in commercial real estate, commercial vehicle purchases or long-term working capital.

These types of loans are on a predetermined schedule based on interest payments and a monthly principal. A term loan is at a fixed rate, but our team can look into variable rates if that’s something that makes better sense for your business needs.

Talk to your Utah business loan officers to see how this, or other, lending options might benefit your business. Learn more at our website, or call First Utah Bank at 801-308-2265.