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Wells Fargo donates $20M to strengthen small businesses in Miami-Dade County

In a major investment in Miami-Dade County’s small business community, Wells Fargo announced today a $20 million grant to the Miami Foundation. Through the grant, the Miami Foundation’s largest grant ever, the nonprofit foundation will use the funding to support diverse small businesses and nonprofits through a combination of grants, loans and technical assistance.  Miami is one of just five cities across the US to receive the substantial grant.

The goal: To help historically disadvantaged small business owners own more of their business assets and improve technology to better serve customers.

The Miami Foundation, led by Rebecca Lipsey, will work with community stakeholders and small business organizations to conduct  outreach and provide funding to small businesses throughout the county. The Miami Foudation has created an advisory council of leaders representing a broad cross-section of small business support organizations and includes Florida SBDC at FIU Regional Director Brian Van Hook, to help inform the foundation about the best ways to design the program and distribute the capital, Lipsey said.

“This is a transformational investment from Wells Fargo that builds upon the foundation’s commitment to racial equity. It will help create generational wealth and support a stable future for small businesses as we work to foster a strong, equitable and thriving Greater Miami,” Lipsey said. Lipsey was joined by the CEO of Wells Fargo and other bank executives, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine Cava, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and other leaders for the announcement Friday.

Mayor Levine Cava called the grant a “game-changer” for small businesses striving to succeed in the new economy. Mayor Suarez noted that these are the businesses that kept the community up and running throughout the pandemic and are “a necessity” to Miami’s sustained success. Rep. Wilson called it a “long overdue investment in our region’s diverse small business community.”

The donation is part of Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million national small business recovery effort with a focus on racially and ethnically diverse owners who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Miami is one of five cities chosen to receive the substantial grant from the Open for Business Fund.

Florida International University’s StartUP FIU Food program has been a previous grantee of Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, as well as the Urban League of Broward County, The Black Business Investment Fund of Florida, Legal Services of Miami-Dade County and others. For example, a grant from the Open for Business Fund helped Alexandra Silva obtain legal services for her New Century Dance Company.

To be sure, small business is a major engine of Miami-Dade’s economy.  In a report compiled by Florida International University before the pandemic, Miami-Dade had 82,000 businesses representing more than 900,000 workers. Indeed, we have chronicled the battles and major pivoting of small businesses to survice the pandemic, and many are beginning to thrive again.

“Fostering an inclusive economic recovery and helping small businesses sustain themselves and grow in the wake of Covid-19 is a priority for us,” said Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo CEO. “Today’s donation is one of the largest we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund, and we know if will make a difference for small business owners here in Miami.”

More details about the program will be coming out in future weeks and small businesses do not have to be Wells Fargo customers to apply, Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

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