No responses: Blong Yang, Cathy Spann
Describe how you see the small business climate.
Raeisha Williams: As a small business owner, I think that it is a perfect time to support and encourage local businesses to grow, expand, and to encourage individuals interested in starting a business to go for it. We have seen a influx of restaurants and bars grow throughout the city.
Jeremiah Ellison: We have a lot of entrepreneurial and small business talent in Ward 5. But many ideas either don't come to fruition, or move elsewhere because Northside businesses are cost-burdened because we lack move-in ready spaces and the city doesn't provide the same kind of incentives to open a small business over North that they do to larger developers and larger businesses.
There are great disparities between minority owned and white businesses in Minneapolis. Entrepreneurs and businesses of color face disparate challenges in everything from access to credit to navigating city licenses and regulations. What policies do you think are needed to increase minority and immigrant owned business ownership and success?
Raeisha Williams: I believe that harsher action needs to take place for banks and or lending institutions that engage or practice discriminatory activities. I would work on creating a seed fund for minority businesses that would act as the owners equity. Often times, minority business owners don't have the equity that banks require, and so they are denied loans. I would expand the financial support the city provides to Economic Development Centers such as MEDA. As Loan recipient of their program, I know for a fact that my family restaurant would not be a reality if it weren't for their holistic approach to supporting and lending to minority businesses.
Jeremiah Ellison: I would want to explore targeted grants and other incentives to help Black, POC, immigrant, and indigenous businesses to open and thrive. Additionally, I would want to look into adding staff to the new small business team that is focused on supporting businesses of color.
Cities can do many things to support locally owned businesses. What ideas do you have to support locally owned businesses in Minneapolis?
Raeisha Williams: Provide tax breaks to smaller business just starting out in the business. Expand the licensing technical support so that businesses can navigate the city application process more efficiently. I would create a minority business sub-division that focus solely on create equitable business for communities of color.
Jeremiah Ellison: The city should do a better job of letting people know about the technical assistance that it already offers and increasing the size of the new small business team, which was a good first step but not far enough. Then, honestly, I would collaborate with small business owners like the members of Main Street Alliance to come up with the kind of creative solutions that come from small business owners' years of experience.
What work have you done in your career to date to support locally owned businesses?
Raeisha Williams: I am a local business owner. I own the LashBar on Broadway, and my family has a small restaurant in St. Paul. Both of our business pay our employees who are from the community above the minimum wage. We believe in livable wages for our employees. I am a organizer and supporter of 15NOW and advocated for fair scheduling and paid sick leave for non salary employees in Minneapolis.
Jeremiah Ellison: I've successfully run my own art practice that employs other artists. Through that, I have helped them create viable business plans of their own.
Would you support strong proactive outreach to businesses to inform them about earned sick and safe time, minimum wage, and other labor regulations?
Raeisha Williams: Yes.....
Jeremiah Ellison: Yes, I see this as a key part of passing any new labor regulation.