Defending Minority-Owned Businesses In Federal Court
The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) and Amplify LatinX have filed a motion to intervene in federal court in defense of a pandemic relief program administered by the Commonwealth to support small businesses, including minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs). The federal case was brought by two white-owned businesses attacking the state’s Inclusive Recovery Grant Program. BECMA and Amplify LatinX are represented by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR).
The Inclusive Recovery Grant Program is part of a COVID-19 economic relief bill adopted by the Commonwealth in November 2022. The program provides up to $75,000 for a wide range of businesses, including those serving socially and economically disadvantaged groups, and underserved markets. The program also supports businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, immigrants, disabled individuals, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The lawsuit is part of a growing national wave of challenges to efforts surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). BECMA and Amplify LatinX are intervening in the federal case to defend the interests of Black-owned and Latinx-owned businesses, and to ensure equitable access to capital.
“Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and have often been left behind by relief efforts,” said Nicole Obi, President and CEO of BECMA. “Massachusetts’ Inclusive Recovery Grant Program provides critical, equitable funding for small businesses that need support the most, and stimulates economic development by prioritizing firms serving historically underrepresented communities.”
“Latinx-owned businesses are often under-capitalized, due to systemic barriers that stand in the way of equal access,” said Eneida Roman, President and CEO of Amplify LatinX. “The pandemic exacerbated the vulnerability of these businesses, and forgivable loan programs and grant funding are key components to economic relief and revitalization.”
“MBEs need a voice and zealous representation in this case,” said Tasheena Davis, Litigation Fellow at LCR. “We must remain vigilant and unwavering in our commitment to equity and closing the staggering wealth gap for communities of color.”
The case is Dalton v. Hao, No. 23-CV-11216 (D. Mass.).