Suffolk County

Black owned small businesses closing twice as fast

BOSTON — Before the Growing Season plant shop filled up a small space on Beacon Street in Brookline, it was Plan It Eats. The black-owned business opened at the end of 2019, just a couple of months before the pandemic.

“It stopped us dead in our tracks,” said owner Emanuel Gomes. “All that time we were paying and our budget overspent itself and we just had to shut down.”

The pandemic forced about 20% of small businesses to close nationwide, but that number doubled with black-owned small businesses according to Boston-based nonprofit Interise.

“41% of black-owned businesses have failed during the first two years of pandemic and if you see now with the new variant it’s going to continue for a while,” said Interise CEO Darrell Byers. “So what we’ve been working on over the last few years is making sure that businesses have the tools, the knowledge to pivot when appropriate and to really pay attention to the finances of their business, to develop a 90-day survival plan instead of a three-year growth strategy.”

Every year, the local organization helps hundreds of black-owned small businesses nationwide. (Free registration here:

Locally, more help is also on the way, but for all small businesses. The City of Boston announced Tuesday it will replenish the Small Business Relief Fund with $5 million to help support an additional 300 local, small businesses across Boston.

“It will provide technical assistance and longtime planning assistance for our small businesses,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion.

Boston and Brookline both will need all help they can get especially now with the new vaccine mandate.

“I know a lot of people that don’t get this vaccine and don’t feel that they have to because they feel that if they have a healthy life and they keep doing it that they’re not going to catch and if they do, it’s mild, and they could get over it. It’s tough but it’s going to hurt businesses though. That’s a fact because I know a lot of people that are not vaccinated.”

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