(CBS News) – A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll shows the impact of the coronavirus is hitting minority-owned businesses disproportionately hard. Many are finding it difficult to secure loans to help their stores survive and now the economic impact is guiding some Black and Brown voters as they head to the polls.
The poll finds nearly 66% of minority-owned businesses nationwide are concerned about the future of their shops compared to the 57% of non-minority owned small businesses. It’s a closer gap than five months ago, but it’s still wide enough to leave entrepreneurs uneasy.
Cleveland-based entrepreneur Kevin Johnson runs a medical assistance small business that helps seniors, the group initially most feared to be impacted by the coronavirus. “We had to go straight through because our customers need us, and regardless of what’s going on, they’ve gotta have that help,” Johnson says.
Johnson also sits on several small business boards in the area and watched helplessly as his peers were forced to shut their doors, in some cases for good. Many of the owners unable to secure a financial boost from the government were Black. Johnson says, “I would say that for a lot of minority companies, the ship has already sailed.”
Case Western Reserve University professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway says while candidates at times marginalize black voters, the impact of this year – from the economy, to the pandemic, to the calls for racial justice – make this election especially significant. “Everyone’s using the word equity. It’s a buzzword at this point, right? It’s a thing that you say in order to make it clear that you recognize all of the injustices that exist for marginalized communities and people in this country,” Hardaway says.
It’s a multi-layered issue for Johnson. “The time when we’re able to rally around a purpose that says that the great words ‘We The People’ are inclusive and not exclusive,” he says.
With days to go before the election, it’s a heavy topic for many voters, but one they say needs to be addressed.
According to a CBS News poll, 90% of Black voters across the country say they’d vote for Joe Biden. That’s better than Hillary Clinton’s numbers from four years ago. Both campaigns are focused on minority votes especially in crucial battleground states.