By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Black businesses play a major role in the country’s economic fabric, a factor that’s led Wells Fargo to recognize the importance of investing in the community, officials said.

The banking giant recently launched the “Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Neighborhood Renovation Program” contest, where eligible small businesses in five U.S. cities will have the opportunity to win a physical renovation to their business.

The program has been designed to help spur economic development in neighborhoods across the country and its been made available to small businesses in designated economic development areas in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis.

In each city, one grand prize winner will win up to $25,000 to improve the exterior and, or, interior appearances of their business, and three finalists each will receive up to $10,000 in business renovations. The contest runs through May 31.

In an email about the program, Georgette Dixon, the senior vice president of strategic partnership at Wells Fargo said that working with small business owners is very important to Wells Fargo.

Dixon noted that small businesses make up about 99 percent of U.S. employer firms and 63 percent of net new private-sector jobs in our economy.

The contest is a part of the “Wells Fargo Works for Small Business” platform, a broad initiative to deliver resources, guidance and services to small business owners, Dixon said.

The contest may also be viewed, by some, as a public relations tool for Wells Fargo, as the company seeks to repair its tarnished image.

On Friday, May 12, Bloomberg News reported the company may have opened as many as 3.5 million fraudulent accounts in the last 15 years, according to consumer advocates who are trying to beef up a settlement with the bank over abusive sales practices.

The bank reached a $110 million deal in late March to resolve a national class-action lawsuit over claims that employees may have opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ permission since 2011.

Last month, after the bank agreed to expand the accord to include dates as early as May 2002, lawyers for consumers raised their estimate on the number of fake accounts.

Still, the neighborhood renovation program presents an excellent opportunity for small businesses.

“The Wells Fargo Works: Neighborhood Renovation Program has been evolving since 2009, when Wells Fargo renovated the first businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, through the most recent renovations in Baltimore in 2016,” Dixon said. “Based on our experience, we have expanded the 2017 contest to five U.S. cities, in an effort to improve 20 small businesses in economic development focus areas.”

There were 2.6 million Black or African American-owned firms nationally in 2012, up from 1.9 million or 34.5 percent from 2007, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

All except for 109,137 or 4.2 percent, of Black or African American-owned firms were non-employers.
The largest percentage of Black or African American-owned firms existed in the healthcare and social assistance sector, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Atlanta metro area had more Black or African American-owned firms (176,245) in 2012 than any other metro area besides the New York metro area (250,890), according to the Census.

Georgia had more Black or African American-owned firms in 2012 than any other state (256,848), followed by Florida (251,216). Cook County, Ill., led all counties in the number of Black or African American-owned firms, with 110,155.

The District of Columbia, Mississippi and Georgia were the only states where more than one-quarter of all firms were Black or African American-owned (34.8 percent, 27.7 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively).

“The response [to the Wells Fargo program] has been extremely positive,” Dixon said. “Last year, we were able to award three small business owners $10,000 each in renovations to their business’ interior and, or exterior, along with workshops and training from the Greater Baltimore Urban League Entrepreneurship Center Program and Rebuilding Together Baltimore.”

Dixon added: “We continue to build and grow this initiative because we recognize the need to support small businesses in the communities we serve and want to do our part to help more small businesses start, run, grow and thrive.”

Dixon said that America needs small businesses to succeed financially, grow and add jobs for our communities to prosper.

“Wells Fargo has a long history of focusing on outreach and building strong relationships with small business owners to help them success financially,” Dixon said. “Making these tools and resources available to small business owners is a priority.”

For more information, visit WellsFargoWorks.com/renovation.

PHOTO CAPTION: The grand prize winner for the Wells Fargo’s neighborhood renovation in each city can win up to $25,000. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

SEO KEYWORDS: Stacy Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor, Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Works for Small Business, Neighborhood Renovation Program, business and financial, business

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One Response

  1. Rick Nielsen

    Hello Wells Fargo,

    This is a great program and we would like to sign up. Lifeline is an MBE certified black owned business.

    Rick Nielsen
    Lifeline Pharmaceuticals LLC

    Reply

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