Like other Black entrepreneurs in her Inglewood neighborhood, Annie Graham has struggled to keep her business afloat during the pandemic.
At Ms. Ann’s clothing boutique on Manchester Boulevard, the Easter finery Graham stocked last spring remains on the racks. Also untouched are many of the exclusively white outfits for weddings and parties that she sells at her storefront next door, the White House. Customers, she said, mostly buy dresses now for funerals.
So last year, as she fell behind on rent at her storefronts and at home, Graham had to let go of her team of six, all independent contractors and most of them family. She also turned to the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal government initiative that promised to help businesses like hers by providing one of the largest financial bailouts since the Great Depression.
In signing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, then-President Trump announced that PPP loans would provide “unprecedented support to small businesses” in order “to keep our small businesses strong.” The program has injected more than $770 billion into businesses, including Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Los Angeles Times, since April 2020.
But after submitting her application, Graham was notified that her request was rejected. In her corner of Inglewood, only 32% of businesses received PPP loans.
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