SBA Delaware Director Harris hosted a listening roundtable to hear the challenges facing Black-owned small businesses
February 10, 2023
WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) today joined Small Business Administration Delaware District Director Michelle Harris for a roundtable discussion in honor of Black History Month about how the First State is doing in supporting its Black-owned small businesses, and where and how Delaware can improve.
Participants in Friday’s discussion included President of the Black Chamber of Commerce Ayanna Khan, as well as SBA-backed small business counseling organizations and several Black-owned business owners, including Donté M. Murphy, co-founder of 6NINETY9 Web Design; Elaine Roberson, owner and operator of The Mail Box Store of New Castle; Lanice Wilson, owner of The Café Joint and The Juice Joint; Nataki Oliver, owner of The Sold Firm; Randall Law, owner of Kool Kolored Kid Generation, LLC; and Ashlee Cooper, owner of Droneversity.
Each of those business owners has direct personal experience utilizing guidance from a counseling organization like SCORE, a Delaware-founded program that supplies a curriculum and mentorship to Black-owned businesses, the Women’s Business Center, or the Small Business Development Center.
Issues such as high rent, foot traffic challenges, access to financial assistance, and pandemic interruptions were addressed during the roundtable. Clinton Tymes, TrueAccess Capital Technical Coordinator from the Women’s Business Center at TrueAccess Capital, Sarah Mailloux, Associate State Director, Delaware Small Business Development Center, Audrey Scott-Hynson, Business Advisor, Delaware Small Business Development Center, Troy Farmer, Navigator Program Manager, Delaware Small Business Development Center, and Ayanna Khan, Founder, President and CEO, Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce, were all present to provide advice to the small business owners who attended.
“Delaware’s black-owned businesses are the backbone of so many communities throughout the First State, and events like this provide crucial information about how these businesses are doing three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and how my staff and I can continue to support these businesses in Congress,” said Senator Coons. “It’s a mission of mine as a member of the Senate Small Business Committee to ensure the Small Business Administration is in the best position to support these companies. There is no shortage of good ideas from Delaware entrepreneurs, Black-owned or not, and we just need to continue connecting them with opportunities—that’s where I can help.”
“Black History Month is not only a great opportunity to celebrate Black excellence—and Black excellence in business—but to learn from it and build upon it to create future opportunities for Black entrepreneurs,” said Director Harris. “This roundtable discussion provided practical insight from both Black-owned small businesses and small business counselors to help us to do just that.”
“I signed the lease in 2019 [for my business] before the law changed, but there was no flexibility in renegotiating my lease. Just for the record, my rent was $4,600 a month, so I was selling a whole lot of juice,” said Wilson. “The problem was that I couldn’t sell enough juice. Outside of personally funding the business, taking out loans, and all that other good stuff, I opened in July 2020, so I wasn’t eligible for [the Paycheck Protection Program.] It’s been a long, hard road.”