‘I’m bullish’: Philly’s Black biz leaders react to Biden, Harris victory

(Image via The Philadelphia Tribune)

By Ayana Jones

Some local African-American business and nonprofit leaders are taking an optimistic view of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Sharmain Matlock Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, gives the Biden campaign credit for laying out a platform for Black America.

“The work will be in seeing it through, but they have laid out a platform that says that they are committed to ending racism, social justice and supporting African-American owned businesses,” she said.

Biden’s plans calls for a historic effort to empower small business creation and expansion in economically disadvantaged areas.

“The question then becomes how can they be implemented,” Turner said of the plans.

“What can be done by executive order and what will require legislation? What’s going to be the push back, and as those who voted and participated, what can we do to make sure that this moves forward?” Turner asked. “A lot of times we always say that we voted, but voting is the first step.

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“The next step is understanding the platform, seeing what’s there, trying to assess what might be missing and then holding candidates and then ultimately elected officials accountable. I do know that if we focus, if we stay committed then we definitely can see some substantive change,” Turner continued.

Biden’s proposed platform comes as the nation has lost an estimated 40% of Black-owned businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to research.

Steven Scott Bradley, board chair of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, said he appreciates Biden’s emphasis on getting more capital to Black-owned businesses.

Biden proposes to spur more than $50 billion in additional public-private venture capital to help Black entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs of color start businesses in disadvantaged areas around the nation.

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“In order for the economy to be strong, I’m getting the sense that he believes that the minority business community has to be strong because they provide jobs and provide opportunities for wealth and he acknowledged that,” Bradley said.

“I’m very excited that he is willing to use his platform as the president of the United States to encourage corporate America to invest in Black businesses and I’m just bullish and confident that he is going to be a man of integrity and keep his word since we delivered with our votes,” he said.

“We have to hold him accountable.”

Della Clark, president of The Enterprise Center, said she is excited about Biden becoming president-elect because of his preexisting relationship with Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

“I think what we have to do now as Philadelphians is collectively come together and put together a plan that we go to the Biden administration with to support Black and brown enterprises,” she said.

“We can’t have every organization in Philadelphia who works with small businesses run to the Biden administration. We all should come together and put together one plan.”

Clark was part of a group that authored “Big Ideas for Small Business” — a five-step roadmap for rebuilding the nation’s small business sector, reviving entrepreneurship and closing the racial wealth gap. The group will advocate for the roadmap with the Biden administration.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared