Johnson County Comprehensive Economic Plan Focuses on BIPOC-Owned Businesses

TECHNOLOGY

The Comprehensive Economic Development Plan by Astig Planning aims to improve minority-owned businesses in Johnson County using feedback from site visits, focus groups and more. Through a collaboration led by Astig CEO and Founder V Fixmer-Oraiz, the team reached out to a total of 105 respondents comprised of current and emerging business owners and people. […]

The Comprehensive Economic Development Plan by Astig Planning aims to improve minority-owned businesses in Johnson County using feedback from site visits, focus groups and more.

Through a collaboration led by Astig CEO and Founder V Fixmer-Oraiz, the team reached out to a total of 105 respondents from current business owners, emerging business owners, and those associated with support agencies. .

Start-up business owners are categorized as either working to start a business or having an idea for a business that has not yet started. Supporting institutions include business partnerships, financing services, local governments, educational institutions and other business hubs.

The study uncovered the barriers facing unpredictable business owners to success in Johnson County and provided background information for the owners.

“We wanted to dispel some myths,” Fixmer-Oraiz said at an Iowa City Council work session on Sept. 20. He explained that there is often a stereotype that it is not.

Her survey results show that the majority of both existing and start-up business owners have a bachelor’s degree. 32% of her respondents have a master’s or Ph.D.

Graph of Astig survey respondents’ establishments. His 52% of all respondents operate within Iowa City.credit astig planning

barrier

More than half of business owner respondents said they spend 20% or more of their business income on rent, which is above industry standards. Individuals are advised not to spend more than 30% of their personal income on housing.

Respondents also indicated difficulty securing bank loans due to seemingly intimidating requirements or lack of approval. Other respondents indicated that they did not know where the financial resources were.

“The Center for Multicultural Development in Iowa offers a business accelerator program, but many people don’t know about it,” Fixmer-Oraiz gave as an example.

58% of respondents said Johnson County agencies are providing COVID-19 relief and small business loans despite $50,000 in grants awarded to 33 BIPOC-owned businesses I didn't feel that. This indicates that not enough people in the community were aware of how to apply for assistance.
58% of respondents said that Johnson County agencies would provide COVID-19 relief and small business loans despite $50,000 in grants awarded to 33 BIPOC-owned businesses since the pandemic began. I didn’t feel like I was providing. This indicates that not enough people in the community were aware of how to apply for assistance.credit astig planning

Astig’s economic plan states that most aid agencies have not implemented programs to assist BIPOC-owned businesses for a long time, and that those that do have data on underrepresented community participants. It is also detailed that it is not collected.

Their findings show that most sponsoring organizations do not provide loans to BIPOC-owned businesses, and at least 67% of all agencies in Johnson County do not provide loan information materials in various languages. Hmm. While some locations offer language support in Spanish, a significant portion of Johnson County residents also speak French and Mandarin, according to data from the 2019 American Community Survey.

When provided with translated documents, residents are rarely able to ask follow-up questions directly to the translators, Fixmer-Oraiz said.

solution

In June, Astig hosted a Strategic Doing session with 30 participants, including local vendors and local government leaders, discussing how they can all work together to mitigate challenges.

Following that session and the research, focus groups, and interviews conducted by Astig, Fixmer-Oraiz presented the following solutions and opportunities for the Iowa City Council to consider.

  • one-on-one instruction
  • Access to commercial kitchen
  • Access to online and graphic design skills classes
  • affordable space
  • Community Grants by Supporting Banks
  • Increased opportunities for street sales
  • Low interest loan with no first year repayment
  • Centralized management of information on permissions in multiple languages

Fixmer-Oraiz also made recommendations for the American Relief Plans Act (ARPA) that local governments can pass to help businesses in Johnson County.

63 existing business owners, 17 emerging business owners, and 24 people involved in support organizations were surveyed. Astig had to employ several techniques to reach the respondents, such as knocking on the door in person or using a translator. Respondents represented her 25 races and her 29 ethnicities.

Other community partners include Mazahir Salih, Executive Director of the Center for Worker Justice; Angie Jordan, CEO of Banjo Knits Empowerment and co-founder of South Side Diversity Market; Marlén Mendoza, an independent policy consultant; This includes Michelle Heinz, Executive Director of the Re-Entries Community.

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