Small, minority-owned businesses struggle with Nashville’s growth

Nashville 2019

The closing of a community-favorite coffee shop in South Nashville sparked a conversation about small businesses struggling to survive in a growing climate.

The closing of a community-favorite coffee shop in South Nashville sparked a conversation about small businesses struggling to survive in a growing climate.

“It’s always a challenge to a small business– the access to capital,” said Yuri Cunza, president of Nashville’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

It’s an even bigger challenge, he says, for small businesses with minority owners.

“Let’s say immigrant businesses, it’s limited on the access of securing credit, getting funding, but of course, we are not asking for anybody to be treated differently, we’re just asking people to be aware,” Cunza said.

It’s an issue the chamber’s taken on after the closing of Flat Rock Coffee and Tear last month, a Hispanic owned coffee shop shut down with Nashville’s rising rents.

Since then, several others started sharing similar stories.

“I’m not able to find a space that is affordable, a space that I can convert into a kitchen that is affordable,” said Loraine Segovia-Paz, owner of Casa Segovia-Paz making empanadas.

The chamber’s organized conversations with small businesses, local leaders, and resources in hopes of finding solutions.

“There are ways to start businesses as a collective so um, we’re helping peoples start businesses that they own and control as a group as the workers that work there,” said Rosemarie Rieger, co-director of Southeast Center for Cooperative Development, who met with the chamber Wednesday.

Last month, Mayor David Briley announced resources for small businesses including an online portal and a crowdlending program, but now, they need to think even smaller.

“The issue actually you know began to come up around commercial gentrification was around Flat Rock,” said Ashford Hughes the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Mayor David Briley’s Office, “We been really looking at ways that we can work with some of our legal department, partners within the city, and how we can development a framework to really address with these businesses on the front end, lease negotiation, lease options, so those businesses know before going, if they don’t own the property outright, knownig what is a good sustainable lease option for them in this current market.”

While the conversation continues, minority businesses are starting to ban together to stay afloat.

“We’re gonna be partnering together, and find spaces for whether it be a commnity kitchen, whether it be for a bar, for a cafe,” Segovia-Paz said, “Many things that the city’s looking for, the community is asking for.”

The mayor’s office tells News 2 their small business initiatives are just getting off the ground and they will make sure minorities have a voice. They’ve also created a minority business advisory council which is supposed to meet in the next month.

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