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Opinion: Embracing Atlanta’s Black businesses for a more just economy

Opinion: Embracing Atlanta’s Black businesses for a more just economy
Scaling Black businesses will significantly reduce the racial wealth divide.

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Atlanta's Racial Wealth Divide Highlighted by Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative

A recent report by the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI) has shed light on the staggering racial wealth divide in Atlanta, with the typical Black household holding only $5,180 in wealth compared to $238,350 for the typical white household. The AWBI is committed to fostering inclusive economies and promoting wealth-building in historically disinvested communities in Atlanta and across the South.

The report also found that neighborhoods north of Interstate 20, which are majority white, tend to experience better outcomes than those south of I-20, which are home to majority Black residents. One potential solution to reducing the racial wealth gap is scaling Black businesses, but structural barriers persist, such as the fact that 97% of Black-owned businesses have just one employee - the owner.

In response to these challenges, AWBI has leveraged $83 million through microloans and grants to small businesses, and is focused on preserving and advocating for the growth of Historically Black Commercial Corridors within the city. The organization is also urging policymakers to take steps to support Black-owned businesses, such as expanding affordable commercial space opportunities and increasing transparency in procurement outcomes.

AWBI's efforts are part of a collective push for more equitable outcomes for families and children, and the organization is calling for a truly inclusive economy in Atlanta.

Jarryd Bethea, a senior research associate at the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, is the author of this report.

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