Capital City Chamber conference focuses on funding challenges

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This year’s Advantage conference brought together many financial institutions under one roof to hear about the challenges faced by minority-owned businesses while raising capital.

The Capital Chamber of Commerce hosted the two-day conference which included panel discussions on upcoming developments in Tallahassee and opportunities for entrepreneurship education.

However, the central theme was funding and the need to do more to bridge the gap that small businesses face while securing funds for their respective operations.

Previously: Could ‘hidden workers’ help Tallahassee’s workforce woes? The chamber forum explores the subject

“Invest early”: Childcare, labor challenges spark discussion at Tallahassee chamber conference

It was also a call to action for banks and credit unions to review their practices and understand the limitations some potential customers may have and what can be done to reach 7% of households in the United States. States that are considered “unbanked” or “underbanked”. meaning no household member has a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union. These people use alternative financial services such as person-to-person apps like CashApp, payday lenders, car title loans, check cashing facilities, and pawnshops.

In Tallahassee, 5.9% of residents are unbanked. According to the Chamber, the average unbanked person spends 10% of their income on alternative financial service fees, or $40,000 over their lifetime.

The Chamber announced a new partnership called “Bet on the count“, working with the City of Tallahassee Division of Social Services and Leon County Social Services to ensure the financial health of residents and businesses.

He is part of a nationwide Bank On network of dozens of coalitions hoping to help residents navigate the consumer credit market.

“This is a great opportunity to match community needs with financial institutions that want to make a difference in the community, and the nonprofit and government segments that are already having a pretty big impact,” said Patrick Eichholtz. , director of Bank On Florida.

Capital Chamber of Commerce President Katrina Tuggerson said there has always been an underlying need for financial resources for small businesses and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded that need.

The timing of the conference, she said, comes as financial pressure is evident throughout the small business community. One of the main obstacles is the lack of access to capital, she said, referring to the closure of new and old restaurants and small businesses.

“We’re going through tough times,” Tuggerson said. “We see small businesses making deals with landlords. When they earn a certain amount, the owners receive a certain percentage of their earnings. This is happening right here in our community.

Tuggerson said the Chamber recognized the growing need to fill the financial gap, adding that partnerships with the school district, local government and financial institutions will provide vital connections for resources and potential relationships.

The management of the Chamber has encouraged and received strong support from members of financial institutions. Tuggerson said the conversation about access to capital cannot happen without their participation.

“Without financial institutions being in the room, reviewing their own account standards and where their redlining is, it gives them the opportunity to say, ‘What is the culture of my financial institution? Is it welcoming? Is it welcoming to everyone? Is it welcoming for small businesses? »

Contact TaMaryn Waters at [email protected] or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.

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