What the crisis at this Brooklyn Park office building says about the state of black-owned businesses
Since the Brooklyn Executive Plaza was purchased by a new owner in August 2021, the status of the predominantly black immigrant owned businesses that operate out of these old office buildings has been unstable.
In March 2022, 12 tenants on the first floor of the 7710 Executive Plaza building located in the Northwest suburb of Brooklyn Park were told to vacate on short notice. While ACER and the city council were able to help some tenants negotiate with the property owner to extend their leases and provide resources for other tenants to relocate, unfortunately, on December 7th, 2022, 18 more businesses received a lease termination notice asking them to leave the building by January 31, 2023. Following another round of advocacy through public demonstrations and engagement with the city council, the property owner has agreed to extend their leases and the business owners are working with ACER to find new spaces for their businesses.
This long saga endured by these business owners is just a brief microcosm of what BIPOC entrepreneurs are facing in Minnesota. Predatory landlords charging exorbitant rent and terminating leases on short notice are just a few of the problems minority business owners face. Entrepreneurs of color find it difficult to access capital from traditional financiers, often relying on their close social networks to help start and continue their businesses. This lack of social and financial capital constrains the ability of these businesses to succeed and grow because it hinders their access to desirable commercial space with high customer traffic and good amenities. Because of the nontraditional way that BIPOC entrepreneurs start their businesses, being "bank ready" and navigating the complex network of regulatory and licensing systems becomes a large obstacle on its own. This creates an additional barrier to accessing traditional sources of lending available to business owners with more privileged backgrounds.
Because these issues are not just day-to-day struggles, but also systemic burdens, ACER's Economic and Community Development work doesn't just focus on providing local business owners with the training and funding to run their businesses, we are also actively engaging lawmakers and financial institutions to advocate for structural and programmatic policy changes that help build wealth within BIPOC communities.