Local Data Gathered From Area Businesses Builds On Local Efforts To Strengthen Capital Access and Build Capacity
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (February 24, 2022) – Community partners Pathway Lending and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga released today a comprehensive assessment of Hamilton County Black-owned businesses. With funding from JPMorgan Chase, Pathway Lending commissioned the assessment conducted by the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga as part of a collaborative effort announced last year. The collaboration aims to advance inclusive growth and strengthen Chattanooga’s ecosystem for small and minority-led businesses by identifying opportunities for existing businesses to scale, assessing capital and capacity needs, and uncovering gaps in the local and regional small business ecosystem.
“Strengthening the economic health of this vibrant region is very important to JPMorgan Chase. And true economic health means eliminating barriers and providing equitable access to opportunity for all,” said Stefanie Mansueto, Market Executive. “That’s why we sponsored this important research, to better understand the specific challenges faced by minority-owned businesses and provide a data-informed roadmap for the road forward. JPMorgan Chase is honored to stand with our dedicated partners who work so hard to make a powerful difference in our region.”
The Hamilton County Black-owned Business Needs Assessment builds on prior studies aimed at improving outcomes for Black-owned businesses from the City of Chattanooga, as well as organizations like The Greater Chattanooga Community Foundation, CO.LAB, LAUNCH, the Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, and The Enterprise Center. The assessment aims to provide an updated view on the state of Black-owned businesses in Hamilton County, highlighting current industry clusters, existing programming and support, as well as opportunities to strengthen access to capital and technical assistance.
“We know entrepreneurship can unlock wealth in Black communities with higher wages and rates of asset ownership, and together with its ability to fuel regional economic growth has made it a regional priority,” said Clint Gwin, CEO and president of Pathway Lending. “With this research, we hope to inform a shared vision for working together to best meet the capital and capacity needs of Hamilton County Black-owned businesses. We’re grateful to JPMorgan Chase and to the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and research team for their partnership and proud to share these findings and recommendations with the community.”
Hamilton County’s Black residents represent 14 percent of the population (75,000 people), but Black-owned businesses account for just 2 percent of the County’s 8,496 employer businesses and 8 percent of its 28,380 nonemployer business. Most of these businesses, an estimated 80 percent, cluster in one of four sectors spanning retail, restaurants, salons and other services in the county.
“All through the research you see how access to capital can and often does shape the entire journey for our region’s Black entrepreneurs and business owners. When you start a business with limited personal assets and little access to capital, it makes sense to start one that isn’t capital intensive and doesn’t need employees,” said Candy Johnson, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. “What our Black business owners have in abundance are talent and tenacity, and it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for a future where we work together to deliver the capital and capacity Black businesses need to start, grow and employ at rates similar to non-Black businesses.”