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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (5th District Missouri)

Cleaver-Led Effort to Form the Tri-Chambers of Kansas City Will Assist Minority-, Women-, and LGBT-owned Small Businesses Devastated by COVID-19 Pandemic

(Kansas City, MO) – Today, United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) announced the formation of the Tri-Chambers of Kansas City, a consolidation of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City to assist minority-, women-, and LGBT-owned small businesses in the Greater Kansas City Area. Last week, the chambers signed a joint contract to receive $250,000 in CARES Act funding to help Kansas City small businesses devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we continue to see the economic fallout from this awful pandemic, it is abundantly clear that not enough has been done to protect diverse-owned small businesses,” said Congressman Cleaver. “With the formation of the Tri-Chambers and the pooling of additional resources from the CARES Act, we’re hopeful that minority-, women-, and LGBT-owned small and micro businesses in Kansas City will now have easier access to the financial and legal knowledge needed to access funding from programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, which disproportionately left minority-owned businesses behind. I want to thank Kim Randolph, Carlos Gomez, and Suzanne Wheeler for their leadership in making this possible. As Congress continues to negotiate the next relief package for American families and small businesses, I will continue to push for significant, targeted funding for the small businesses who have been hit the hardest.”

“First and foremost this funding allows us to help the small business community of Kansas City, Missouri, which is needing assistance,” said Carlos Gomez, President, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City. “But it is also bringing together 3 incredible organizations to leverage our resources and create synergy to be more impactful.” 

“We’re thrilled to launch the Tri Chamber today with our friends and partners in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce,” said Jeff Harris, Board President, the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Today’s launch is the result of years of relationship building across our diverse organizations and business communities. Our Chamber’s mission is to advocate for, promote, and facilitate the success of the LGBT business community and our allies. We are confident this unique collaboration will further our mission and extend our reach and services, not only through COVID-19 but for years to come.”

According to a study from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, only 341 of the 4,677 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of over $150,000 to small businesses in Kansas City were awarded to diverse-owned small businesses, defined as minority- or women-owned. According to a study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, over 40 percent of Black-owned businesses; 32 percent of Latinx-owned businesses; 26 percent of Asian-owned businesses; and 25 percent of Women-owned businesses were shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, higher than the national average of 22 percent of small businesses across the country.

Congressman Cleaver has been advocating for more support to minority-owned businesses since the beginning of the pandemic, initially calling on the Fed to include minority-owned brokers and asset managers as partners in its capital markets and liquidity programs to ensure investment and lending would reach minority communities. Cleaver also joined several members from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to call on the Fed Chair and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to temporarily take emergency measures to support Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in their ability to serve small businesses, low- and moderate-income communities, and communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, Representative Cleaver also demanded the Treasury Department provide diversity data from the PPP and amend their guidance on the program to reaffirm the obligation that lending institutions must comply with fair lending laws.

“It’s critical for state, local, and federal entities to work together to reverse the disproportionate devastation COVID-19 has brought on minority-, women-, and LGBT-owned small businesses,” said Congressman Cleaver. “We believe the formation of the Tri-Chambers is a part of the solution for Kansas City, and we look forward to their work in keeping businesses afloat as we continue to battle the coronavirus.”

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.

MIL OSI USA News