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In Durham, VP Kamala Harris Announces $32M in Funding for Women- and Minority-Led Businesses in NC

Source: News & Observer

Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Durham’s historic Black Wall Street district where she announced that the Biden-Harris administration will be awarding $32 million to women- and minority-led businesses in North Carolina.

According to The News & Observer, Harris announced that the funds will be distributed to 10 women- and minority-led firms that invest in startup companies and small businesses, which will then use that money to support entrepreneurship.

Many of those firms were present for the announcement on March 1, which was held outside the Ella West Gallery, a Black-woman-owned fine arts gallery downtown.

Information provided by the White House said the funds will lead to an additional $60 million in private spending in the state, bringing the total spending on these businesses to $92 million.

“We understand that traditionally minority-owned businesses have received a fraction of federal contracts,” Harris said, “often because relationships are not there, the access therefore is not there, but the talent exists.” And this spending is not only “a good thing to do,” Harris said, but “ultimately it makes economic and financial sense.”

The funds are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to increase the percentage of federal contract funding going to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged people. The administration announced this goal in December 2021.

According to a White House news release, this spending is part of the Biden administration’s “effort to ensure that not just loans, but also equity capital investments are available across all of America to entrepreneurs – including Black-, Hispanic-, veteran- and women-led businesses, as well as those in rural areas – that have typically been shut out of these opportunities.”

While making the announcement, Harris also took the opportunity to highlight the significance of the event’s location.

“I just stand here thinking of what has happened here over the years, both in terms of the strength of the community and then the challenges and the obstacles that were presented to this community but how it has rebounded in such an extraordinary way,” she said.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Black Wall Street, located on Parrish Street, was home to hundreds of Black-owned businesses as the Black middle class in Durham grew. When the Great Depression hit, the city’s textile industry and many workers were impacted. Desegregation in the 1960s also resulted in many Black-owned businesses shutting down, according to The News & Observer. 

Over the past decade, the area has seen massive growth and efforts to revitalize the area.


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