Growing Your Income

Program provides grants to Black entrepreneurs in downtown Springfield

Program provides grants to Black entrepreneurs in downtown Springfield

Marlin Blakeney is the owner of QCM Agency and Harbell's Sports Bar in downtown Springfield.

The Downtown Springfield Association is partnering with U.S. Bank to provide grants to minority-owned businesses opening in center city.

A news release from the organization says that downtown Springfield and the adjoining neighborhoods is one of the most diverse places in southwest Missouri with a population that is 21 percent Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). But less than 5 percent of businesses in downtown Springfield are BIPOC-owned.

To address the disparity, the Downtown Springfield Association secured $25,000 in grant money to help up to five BIPOC entrepreneurs open a business downtown.

The release says the grants will be awarded by working with the identified needs of the new business and in conjunction with existing resources from the Springfield Finance and Development Corporation, city of Springfield and other community organizations.

This grant program is limited to new and expanding businesses with storefront locations in center city Springfield.

A mural in downtown Springfield in this News-Leader file photo.

Previously:‘It’s a project to help people’: SGF software developer launches Black-owned business site

The Downtown Springfield Association has received more than a dozen applications from entrepreneurs wanting to open businesses like restaurants and health and beauty stores. 

Rusty Worley, executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association, said increasing the number of minority-owned businesses downtown has been a priority for several years, especially after events like the George Floyd killing in 2020 shown a light on racial issues in the country.