EDA to partner with Philly Fed in effort to help minority businesses

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia announced Monday that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a Research in Action Lab on the topic of minority-owned small businesses.

Research in Action Labs are part of the Economic Growth and Mobility Project, an initiative of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia dedicated to promoting equal access to economic opportunity for all.

A Research in Action Lab moves research into action on a specific issue of poverty and economic mobility impacting a community. The goal of this Research in Action Lab is to explore innovative solutions through cross-sector partnerships:

  • Institutionalize partnerships: Convene stakeholders across sectors to address systemic issues of economic inequality related to minority-owned small businesses;
  • Pilot and innovate solutions: Explore public-private partnerships, innovative models and opportunities to pilot and scale impact;
  • Effect systems change: Bring research to bear on critical issues affecting minority-owned small businesses; impact policies at a state, local and federal level; shift narratives and mindsets around critical issues; and elevate the voices of those most impacted.

Through the MOU, the EDA and the Fed are each committing to dedicating staff and organizational capacity to the Research in Action Lab and to sharing their expertise, partnerships and relationships to advance research efforts and stakeholder conversations that will help to address the particular issues minority-owned businesses are facing.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will take the lead on efforts to identify national best practices on such issues and elevate the work of local stakeholders on a national stage. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to identify and pilot approaches and innovations for addressing disparities in accessing resources for small business growth.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said it’s vital to support minority-owned business.

“Minority-owned businesses are bearing the brunt of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and this research collaboration will help to fuel decisions about how to most effectively and expediently expand equitable access to opportunities for business owners who have historically faced obstacles when it comes to acquiring capital,” he said.

EDA Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper agreed.

“Supporting minority-owned businesses is vital to achieving a strong and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Partnering with the Philadelphia Fed to gain insights into the unique challenges these businesses are facing during the pandemic and expect to face during recovery will help us to craft programs that address their needs and open the door to long-term success.”

Ashley Putnam, director of the Economic Growth and Mobility Project at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said she welcomes the opportunity.

“The New Jersey Economic Development Authority interacts with small businesses every day and addresses economic inequities head on,” she said. “The Philadelphia Fed is excited to partner with the NJEDA, who will provide valuable insight into the challenges businesses are facing in their local communities throughout this partnership.”

The EDA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia first began collaborating in the fall of 2020, when the EDA helped to promote the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey, an annual survey of small businesses in the United States that aims to provide advocates and policymakers with insights they can use to address small businesses’ needs.

The EDA worked with the Reserve Banks to drive responses from underrepresented businesses with a particular focus on learning more about minority- and women-owned firms.