Congressman Panetta Introduces Legislation to Support Community Economic Development Centers

July 29, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), and Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) introduced legislation to enhance COVID-19 relief funding for nonprofit community economic development centers that support minority- and immigrant-owned small businesses.  The Community Economic Development Center Support Act will grant funding through the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) in the Department of Commerce to local community economic development centers, through national economic development intermediaries.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Heroes Act provided funding for Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), SCORE Centers, and Women’s Business Centers (WBC), which are officially associated with the Small Business Administration (SBA).  However, other non-profit organizations serving minority small business owners and entrepreneurs did not receive funding, despite increases in demand for their services due to the pandemic.  The Community Economic Development Center Support Act will provide grant funds to these organizations to help them continue their mission through this pandemic, and ensure that minority-owned small businesses can access lending and technical assistance from nonprofits that understand our communities.

“Unfortunately, many minority and immigrant-owned small businesses not only were hit hard by this pandemic, but also were left out of the relief packages.  In order to make it through this crisis, minority- and immigrant-owned small businesses were forced to turn to nonprofit community economic development centers,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Those nonprofits specialize in serving minority customers, provide bilingual services and individualized assistance, and understand the needs our Central Coast community.  My bill will provide supplemental funding to community economic development centers so that they may continue to assist our small businesses and help them survive this crisis.”

“Small, minority-owned businesses always struggle to get the resources they need to succeed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has left these businesses even further behind.  Immigrant- and minority-owned small businesses are at the heart of my district in Chicago and they are the backbone of our local economy.  Our bill will provide additional resources to nonprofits working to support minority- or immigrant- owned small businesses through this pandemic,” said Congressman García.  “Too many businesses in my community have been left out of stimulus programs while large, politically-connected firms were bailed out.  This bill will help level the playing field so that all businesses have access to the capital and resources they need to weather these unprecedented times.”

"When our relief efforts shut out minority and immigrant-owned businesses, we perpetuate systemic racism. Black and Latino-owned businesses have been at a clear disadvantage when it comes to accessing PPP loans, despite serving the very communities hit hardest by this crisis.  Our bill supports the community economic development centers that minority business owners are turning to for help.  By doing so, we meet these businesses where they are at and help get them the relief they need,” said Congresswoman Sánchez.

“While minority- and immigrant-owned small businesses have long represented the economic backbone of communities across our Los Angeles, they’ve also been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are in dire need of financial support,” said Congressman Gomez.  “The Community Economic Development Center Support Act would provide $75 million in grant funding to nonprofit community economic development centers to assist minority- and immigrant-owned small businesses and help them weather the storm from this national public health emergency.  Through this legislation, we can support the minority- and immigrant-owned small business community, as well as the people they so proudly serve.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically highlighted the inequities that exist in our economy. CARES act funds systematically excluded businesses owned by racially and ethnically diverse people located in low- and moderate-income communities as it fails to provide funds for community economic development organizations like El Pájaro CDC that serve businesses in disadvantaged rural and urban communities.  The Community Economic Development Center Support Act will right a wrong!  If authorized, it will enable our organization to bring hope and economic relief to thousands of business by providing bilingual and culturally relevant business development services and education including access to financing for the recovery of their business and assets.  We applaud this initiative and urge congress to approve it!” said Carmen Herrera Mansir, Executive Director, El Pájaro CDC.

“The National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) applauds Congressman Panetta for introducing the Community Economic Development Center Support Act of 2020” said Noel Poyo, NALCAB Executive Director.  “By providing resources directly to community development organizations with a track record of supporting Latino entrepreneurs, this legislation will equip Latino and minority owned small businesses to do what they do best, create jobs and fuel our nation’s economic recovery.”

“The National Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center program funds 12 Urban League affiliates which serve 14,000 minority entrepreneurs with management counseling, mentoring and training, to help them grow their business, obtain financing or contracts and preserve or create jobs.  These services are need now more than ever given that 41% of all Black-owned businesses—450,000, have been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.8  This legislation will ensure that Urban League Affiliates and other community based providers have the essential resources they need to assist minority-owned small businesses during this critical time,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League.

“The proposed legislation would allocate much-needed resources to organizations that work around the clock to support the small businesses that define our neighborhoods.  It is well documented that intermediaries with direct connections to communities of color and the community-based organizations that serve them have received very little support for their important work.  Intermediaries play a critical role in ensuring that these trusted, culturally competent organizations have access to capacity building and technical resources, as well as federal funding, to effectively implement their programs. This proposed legislation evokes the MBDA's original purpose: to drive federal investments into communities of color.  It will have a strong impact on our efforts to preserve crucial businesses in our communities and rebuild a more just economy,” said Seema Agnani, Executive Director, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD).