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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

#CincyBuyBlackThursday Aims To Help Minority-Owned Businesses During COVID Crisis

main street cincinnati
Bill Rinehart
Main Street Downtown sat nearly empty in April.

A new effort is underway in Cincinnati to support black-owned businesses in the city which are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor John Cranley said Wednesday data shows black communities are being impacted by COVID-19 at the highest rates, not just in terms of health but economically as well.

Cranley said many small and minority-owned businesses did not receive funds as part of the federal stimulus package in the first round. Plus, these businesses have fewer resources for securing investors, and face significant barriers to secure capital needed to keep their businesses open.

"We all say we're all in this together, it's our mantra, and it's true," said new Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney. "But that applies also when we're thinking about things that we can do together to help those that are struggling."

Kearney is asking city residents to support black-owned businesses every week on Thursday as part of #CincyBuyBlackThursday. She asks that you support these businesses and share it on social media using the hashtag.

Kearney said before COVID-19, in Hamilton County, the average annual revenue for white-owned businesses was $820,000. For black-owned businesses it was only $68,000. 

She said during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, 60% of white businesses that existed in 2002 were still in existence after that recession. But only 49% of black businesses were able to survive.

"What we're doing with #CincyBuyBlackThursday is to remind you every Thursday to think about black businesses and black business professionals," Kearney said.

You can use this link to find a black business directory on the city's website.  If you own such a business, you can add your informationto the site.

Meanwhile, the Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio has started the "Mask What Matters" campaign to get personal protective equipment to the most underserved and at-risk communities in the city.

The effort will start by targeting the African American community in Avondale and Bond Hill.  It will expand as more equipment becomes available.

The Urban League will be providing protective masks and hand sanitizer. You can text "mask" to 797979 for distribution times and more information about the campaign.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.