INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Several Black-owned businesses in Indianapolis have sprung up since the pandemic began, but access to cash to expand into physical locations or make improvements to existing buildings is still often out of reach.
The historical barriers black people face in accessing homes also exist when buying commercial property.
Local initiative support company. and Cummins are two agencies spearheading a real estate relief fund for black-owned businesses. The $20,000 grants will help cover closing costs, which are often a major hurdle for small start-up businesses, and other specific expenses.
Vernon and Kesha Stallings have always been a business-minded couple, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, a household hobby, making body butters, turned into something else entirely. “It pretty much became a labor of love and grew out of COVID with my family members in the hospital,” Kesha said.
The Stallings created Natural Blend Cosmetics, an online soap and skincare company. They’ve filled the family home, garage, and nooks with merchandise and hope to move into a real building. “It was time for us to make the transition and use the product to help other people,” Vernon said.
But the initial overhead can be high. That’s why LISC and Cummins have partnered in their efforts.
Natalia Rodriguez Hilt of LISC Indianapolis said, “But really, by focusing on this segment of businesses that have really been left behind, we’re really going to drive a lot of economic development and you’re going to see the difference going forward. ”
Grants are available to businesses approved for a home loan from one of the partner agencies. To further support potential beneficiaries, The Be Nimble Foundation hosts a series of educational webinars to explain how to be ready for a loan and successfully manage space.
Rodriguez Hilt said, “It’s really important that we create an ecosystem that supports all businesses and their growth and development, because if one segment is missing, it affects everyone.
The Stallings say they’re grateful to be working outside their home at the moment, but they’ll look into the grant program. “Oh my gosh, this is an absolute blessing for small businesses,” Kesha said.