David Jackson: Good morning, everyone. My name is David Jackson. I'm a senior adviser in the Community and Economic Development group here at the Atlanta Fed. And I'd like to welcome you today to the next in our series of Inclusive and Resilient Recovery webinars. The data tell us that not all recoveries happen equally. And that data also tell us that Black and Brown minority communities and low-income communities really don't recover as quickly as majority communities. This series allows us to take a look at that and think about, talk about, and plan for ways to ensure that this recovery is more equitable. Next slide, please.

CED at the Atlanta Fed works at the intersection of research and engagement. We work with communities to learn what's going on, on the ground, what the challenges and opportunities are, and in our research team, we work to find the data and best practices that allow us to bring solutions and work with communities to help overcome those obstacles. You might ask, why does the Fed engage in this work? The central bank's mandate of stable prices and maximum employment includes us working to improve economic mobility and resilience for all people and for healthy communities. And with that, I'll turn it over to Janelle Williams, who will take us through this session. Thank you for joining us.

Janelle Williams: Good morning, everyone. Thank you again for joining us for today's session. Over the past few months, we've spoken to several stakeholders working around small business issues in our District as a result of the COVID crisis. These responses echoed synthesizing into four key themes: concerns around communities that are most vulnerable to economic fallout; challenges with COVID responses, any potential long-term impact; the system infrastructure facts to support a more equitable recovery; and COVID's impact on the future economy.

These responses also offered specific feedback on some of these structural limitations for aid programs to help small businesses like PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] [inaudible] that included your origination fee structure, which did put microbusinesses and nonemployee firms at a distinct disadvantage. The documentation requirements to participate in some of these programs to be able to really benefit from these resources are far more difficult for businesses that are too small, and they don't necessarily have compliance staff. And then programs outright excluded people who had many forms of involvement in the criminal legal system. So, to support a more equitable response and recovery, interviewees encourage targeted investments in historically disinvested communities and isolated rural communities as well.

One interviewee noted, when you live in an isolated and disinvested area, if all you have left is operating from, well, you don't have a functioning town anymore. They believe that small businesses are essential economic anchors to bolster places and make them vital. On the next slide, I wanted to spend some time understanding industries that have been hardest hit by this pandemic. We wanted to examine how small firms in our District have been impacted by COVID and leaned on methodology initially developed by our colleagues at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The industries identified by this methodology included retail trade, accommodation and food services, employment services, transportation, arts, entertainment, and recreation. So, what does this really mean for small businesses in the Southeast? Well, the distribution of small firms in these hardest-hit industries vary by state, with an average share of 27.4 percent of all groups. And if you want to focus on employment issues, small firms in these industries account for approximately one-third of employment challenges.

Our next slide is really based on the feedback we received from our stakeholders to explore how small businesses of color in our District are faring in this crisis. Nationally, small businesses of color account for roughly 20 percent of all firms compared to nearly 22 percent of small businesses in our District. We wanted to take a closer look at the representation of small businesses of color in the hardest-hit industries, and you will note that 42 percent of small businesses of color are concentrated in hardest-hit industries within our District, with the highest representation in retail trade and accommodation and food services.

As such, these firms are particularly vulnerable to disruption. My colleague Mary is going to share more details on the distribution of PPP loans. Mary?

Mary Hirt: Thank you, Janelle. And if we can move on to the next slide, thank you. So, to further our analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on hardest-hit industries in the Sixth District, we also wanted to explore the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loans in our District across all of the hardest-hit industries that Janelle just mentioned. The blue bar represents the share of PPP loans compiled from Small Business Administration data sets, and the green bar represents the share of establishments with fewer than 500 employees compiled from the County Small Business Patterns data.

We then cross-walked with the hardest-hit industry methodology developed by the Philadelphia Fed, and the picture chart displays the share of PPP loans and the share of establishments in hardest-hit industries in the Southeast. We noted that all the Sixth District states received a smaller share of number of PPP loans than their share representation of firms in hardest-hit industries. And you'll see that in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, there's the largest gaps at the time of this analysis.

If we move to the next slide, we'll also look at PPP loans broken down by hardest-hit industry. So, while the previous slide offered a distribution of PPP loans by state across industries, we also wanted to look and see the distribution of PPP loans across each of the industries across all six states. So, the blue bar here represents the average share of PPP loans in hardest-hit industries in the Sixth District. And the green bar represents the average share of establishments in hardest-hit industries. You'll note that retail trade and accommodation and food services are the biggest drivers of this gap, given their industry size. We also see that smaller industries such as transportation and arts and entertainment and recreation have a higher share of PPP loans compared to their share of firms in hardest-hit industries in our Sixth District. Next slide, please.

While looking at the PPP loan data is a useful measure, we also wanted to look elsewhere for indicators on small business health. So, to do that, we used PayNet data. And we looked at the Sixth District's hardest-hit industries to see if we're already seeing signs of increased defaults. So PayNet Small Business Default Index measures the percentage of loans and leases to small businesses that have defaulted based on the largest commercial and industrial lenders in PayNet's U.S. database.

The chart displayed looks at the Sixth District's hardest-hit industries over a three-year period, and the dotted red line highlights the onset of COVID-19 social distancing measures. There is a significant increase in default across all of the hardest-hit industries in the Sixth District, with the steepest increase in accommodation and food services post March 2020. In recent months, we also see signs of default rates leveling out across most of the hardest-hit industries in the Sixth District as well as possible signs of recovery for transportation and warehousing.

Next slide, please. Lastly, we also wanted to consider not just the industries and the small business owners, but also the workers that are within these industries. So, many of the employees of small businesses have experienced layoffs, furloughs, and job disruptions. And as a share of the total working population, this chart displayed shows that people of color, younger, and less educated workers have a greater likelihood of being employed in hardest-hit industries compared to their counterparts, and therefore they are more susceptible to economic fallout from COVID-19 in the Southeast. With that, I'm going to pass it back to my colleague Janelle Williams to cover our key takeaways. Janelle, I think you might still be muted.

Williams: Can everyone hear me? So, Mary was showing signs of uneven recovery by industry. Among small businesses of color, we are seeing that they're already overrepresented in hardest-hit industries, and they have already received lower proportional aid. And younger, less credentialed workers of color in these businesses are also more negatively impacted. We are thrilled today to have our Bank president and CEO Raphael Bostic moderate a conversation with small business leaders committed to supporting an inclusive and resilient recovery. Thank you so much, Raphael.

Raphael Bostic: Well, thank you, Janelle, and good morning to everyone. Really glad to have you here. And I wanted to thank both Janelle and Mary and David and my entire Community and Economic Development group for putting this together. This is such an important topic. These have been such difficult and turbulent times for small businesses across the country. And that's true nowhere more than in lower-income and minority communities. So definitely want to make sure that we have a robust conversation. And I'm just glad to be a part of this, that this worked into my calendar. And I'm really glad that everyone is able to be here to join.

I'm going to apologize in advance, my Zoom has been a little unstable. So, if I start chopping up, don't let that distract you. I've dialed in separately, so the sound should stay secure the whole time. And I just wanted to put that out there to start. Now I've been joined by a great panel. We have four speakers here: Kelly Burton, from Founders of Color and Black Innovation Alliance, Clint Gwin from Pathway Lending, Karama Neal from the Southern Bancorp Community Partners, and Gigi Pedraza from the Latino Community Fund.

Now, I'm not going to do extended bios of all the speakers. I think you're going to get links to them, or you may actually get the actual bio in the chat. So, look there for their bios. But this is a great group of people, I think you're going to see that in the conversation we're about to have. So, let's get right to it. So, I wanted to start with a question and really open it up to everyone on the panel, and it really has to do with what Mary and Janelle presented. So, they talked about foreclosures. They talked about, well, they talked about delinquencies and default. They talked about impact of the pandemic in hardest-hit industries. They talked also about the fact that the primary support program, the Paycheck Protection Program, didn't reach Sixth District small businesses in these impacted industries to nearly the extent that there are presences in the sector, and also that there is a disproportionate impact on some disadvantaged populations of workers, and all that is not a happy story. So, I wanted to just open up by asking, okay, given what we've experienced, what lessons that we've learned through this, do we need to prioritize in terms of having a response, but we get better outcomes in the future. And we'll let anyone want to raise your hand and I'll call on you, and we can just jump in that way.

Kelly Burton: I'll go ahead and jump in. So, first, thanks so much, Raphael and the Fed team, for the invitation to participate in the webinar today. I'm really, really excited. I think you know this specifically, the outreach around the PPP really shone a light on the need for us to build out our infrastructure. Janelle talked about this a little bit in terms of the insights and findings, but there's very little ecosystem building, systems design infrastructure, and development that's happening within the state. There's always conversation about how do we support entrepreneurs, and there's very little conversation about how do we support the organizations that exist to support entrepreneurs, because entrepreneurs are not supported in a vacuum. When folks are having issues with the PPP, I can't tell you how many calls I got with folks trying to navigate that process. And if you're not plugged into a network, then your chances of being able to access resources are very limited. And what we really lack in this space is the connective tissue, the ability to coordinate, to collaborate. And a big reason why folks didn't receive information about PPP is that people are not plugged in, networks are not connected to one another. So, it creates an opportunity for us to really refocus our energy and our attention to how do we design the sort of ecosystem necessary for small businesses, small businesses of color to truly thrive.

Gilda Pedraza: I would like to go next. And good morning, everybody, buenos dias. Gigi Pedraza with the Latino Community Fund, 100 percent in agreement with what Kelly shared. One of the things that we learned when we launched the first Georgia Latino Entrepreneurship study in 2019, based on 2018 data, was that one of the determinants for success in small businesses in our community was yes, access to capital, that everybody knows about it, and everybody talks about it, but funding knowledge. And we define that as understanding the process. What a lot of organizations do, which is contextual technical assistance, precisely the way we literally hold the hand of someone that has a big idea or is incorporating a business or even commercial activity because of necessity, understanding that the majority of Latino business owners in Georgia are immigrants and are English learners, and likely have started businesses because of a number of reasons, not only because we want to be the next Amazon or scale superbig. So, understanding that context, understanding that yes, language access, yes, capital access, but also the knowledge on how to navigate the space, it's going to be critical for us to be able to be part of an inclusive and fair recovery.

Karama Neal: This is Karama Neal, I'd like to chime in as well. Again, first, offering my thanks for organizing this important conversation, very much agree with my colleagues. And I think as we think about businesses that are not necessarily oftentimes, unfortunately, not the focus of the work, I think it's important to think about rural businesses as well. Just as Gigi said, there are business owners who have started their businesses for any number of reasons, because they have some visions for scale and employing 500 people, because they are supplementing their income, because they are wanting to have flexibility in terms of their work hours, those kinds of things. I think it's important that we meet all those businesses where they are.

And particularly in rural areas, I think that can be a specific challenge. When you have less density, the services that sometimes we take for granted in a more dense, urban populated area might not be available, particularly right now in the context of this pandemic, where services are being offered remotely, it's important to recognize everyone doesn't have access to broadband. Lots of folks do have a phone, I'm sure here that everybody has a phone and a lot of folks do have a phone, most folks do have a phone. But if you're paying for data and you're trying to do a Zoom call, that can become burdensome. And so, I think it's really important to recognize, particularly in rural America, where so many of the jobs are tied to these small businesses, that is where people are earning their income, whether they're sole proprietors or they're hiring others. It's really, really critical to make sure that the basic infrastructure is there so that everyone has access to the services that are being provided. My hope is that as we come out of this pandemic, some of the kinds of things you're learning about, frankly, having conversations like this that we're doing remotely and providing additional access, that we'll be able to do that even more going forward outside the context of the pandemic, but in a way that increases accessibility throughout our nation.

Clint Gwin: Well, I'll join in at this point. Raphael and the Atlanta Fed, thank you all for having this very important conversation. It is something that we at Pathway Lending work on, on a daily basis. And as was said very eloquently by the three prior speakers is, we look at capacity of the entrepreneur as really the engine of the business. And one of the things that we have found over the years is that in our entrepreneurs of color applicants for capital, that some of the engine pieces are missing at the end of the day, and so working diligently either through one-on-one training, which is very, very expensive, we've been fortunate during this pandemic that many of our private partners and our public partners have put more capital into programs to provide one-on-one training and education to improve the resiliency of these businesses.

But at the end of the day, we've got to make up a historical gap with regard to networks, resources, and knowledge for communities and entrepreneurs of color, so that they can be resilient as they go through these. And so, we've seen a lot of funding, what I would call emergency funding, come to Pathway Lending, the Women's Business Centers across the country, the Small Business Development Centers across the country. We operate a Veterans Business Opportunity Center, and all of those programs bounced or bumped up the dollars, which allowed us to do a lot of one-on-one coaching through the resiliency process of helping these entrepreneurs figure out what the next step is. They operate in very informal networks. And historically, [they] don't use what you would see in traditional businesses of color, consultants or accountants or attorneys to help them navigate these. And so putting together the resources, as my colleagues had mentioned, to be able to get in there and help with those things, and also have the trust to be a part of that solution, has really been a critical aspect to the work we've done so far through the pandemic.

Bostic: So, Clint, you mentioned that a lot of the support is happening in an emergency context. Do you think that the pattern of the emergency support is a model for what support should look like in a nonemergency setting? I guess this is the stuff that we're doing now, the answer, that we can find a way to get this funded that may be good. What's your thought on that?

Gwin: I do think increased levels of funding for the education capacity-building side of entrepreneurs of color is going to be critical in the long term. There's a big gap that's got to be addressed, that has been historically missed over time. And that's expensive work. I mean, we started as one-on-one work, but our goal as quickly as possible is to move folks into cohorts, because what we found over time, is that they think they're the only one having this problem. And they're afraid to bring that problem forward in a group environment or to a friend or to a colleague. And so, it's bridging that gap from "I'm on an island" to "I'm one of many people on an island." That really requires intensive one-on-one work on the front end, then followed by continual coaching on the back end, which costs money. I mean, technical assistance programs don't generate capital, don't generate earnings, typically. And so, while we try to keep our programs extremely affordable, $5 and $10 per program so that they're accessible, that sometimes is even a barrier for some of our entrepreneurs.

Bostic: One day, I'll get this whole new thing figured out. I use it once or twice a day. I have a feeling on this thing it's going to be like eight or nine. So, bear with me. Clint, you talked about building a cohort, which is like a network among the entrepreneurs. Kelly and Gigi, when you were talking about sort of networks and infrastructure, I got the sense it was bringing others into the network of the business that may have different kinds of expertise and knowledge. How do you do that? What does that look like in terms of providing support? And are there those sorts of support institutions that exist in the communities that these small businesses are operating at?

Burton: Well, I think that's a fantastic question. And we're up here in a lot of existing spaces, whether it's education or health care. They're talking about systems change, systems change. But our ecosystem is relatively nascent. Small business technical assistance has been around for a long time. But we're in the midst of a start-up revolution, where there are incubators and accelerators and pitch competitions and funds popping up left and right. And it's hard to keep track of it. We don't necessarily know how these dots are connected. And so, anytime you're talking about a network or a system, the purpose of a system, whether it's the circulatory system in your body or the highway, it's all about delivering information, delivering resources, delivering information, delivering resources.

We have not figured out efficient ways to deliver information and resources to entrepreneurs of color. When you think about PPP, I probably get 7 to 10 emails in my inbox. But that's because I'm plugged in and this is what I do. If you as a small business owner were not before COVID connected to a CDFI [community development financial institution] or a local coworking space or a local bank, you did not receive information on PPP in your inbox. You had to be connected.

So, the conversation that we have to have is, how do we achieve a network of network effect? Because even if you're a pretty established CDFI and you've got a network, your network is still limited. How do we sync up these networks so at all times, entrepreneurs of color are connected to all the potential resources that could help them advance their situation? So, for me, my point is that we really need to level up to figure out how do we identify the sort of resources, not in the six-figure lane or the seven-figure lane but in the eight-figure lane to build the sort of technology that enables us to effectively deploy information and resources to the people who need it.

Pedraza: I'd like to add to Kelly, and this is connected to a question I just answered in the Q&A that segmentation is critical. We cannot talk about all businesses or all businesses of color without really making the effort and investing in understanding what type of business exactly is the one that we want to serve with what particular strategy or tactic.

So, for our community, we have segmented businesses in very distinct spaces. Some of those spaces, which may be businesses that happened to be led by mostly men, that are mostly in construction, for example, that have a revenue of over $250,000, that have a bank account and have been in operation for over five years, are going to be better served by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or the Latin American Chamber of Commerce or a CDFI.

But for businesses that we define as businesses because these are individuals that are engaged in commercial activity, which is an entirely different question, who gets to define what a business is, but for example, these businesses that are led by women that have revenues under $50,000 and are service businesses, likely the better provider of technical assistance is going to be an organization focused on safety net, because those businesses are going to be facing other challenges. Like, for example, do I have money to pay for a taxi? Because I cannot afford a car to go and meet with my bank. Do I have funding, or do I have access to internet? Do I understand English? Do I have credit because I just arrived to the country two years ago? What are some of those compromises that we need to make?

So, understanding what type of technical assistance, what type of network, it's more relevant for that particular type of business is going to be really important. One of the other findings that we had in our study is that for businesses led by Latinos in Georgia, not professional networks, but actually, personal networks are a determinant of success, because at the end of the day the majority of our funding is going to come from personal networks, and the majority of those trusted relationships are going to come from those personal networks.

Burton: I just want to piggyback on Gigi's comments really quickly. They're spot-on in terms of segmentation. So, we think about the industries that were hardest hit, especially folks that operate on Main Street. What we've learned through our programming and just to close on what Clint said about the power of cohort-based learning, it's incredibly powerful, not just because you're able to bring folks together and they have common challenges, but you'll find that there's this peer learning effect, where there are certain folks in that group who have figured it out on this issue and a little, they're always helping one another along. But what we've found is that with Main Street, it's very difficult for them to participate in cohort-based learning because they have to be physically attached to their business all day long, especially if they're brand new. They've got to be at the register, they've got to open a door, they've got to be doing the inventory.

So, it's very difficult for them to leave and be a part of something in person. And so, you have to have strategies that specifically meet them physically, literally, where they are, because they're not going to be able to participate in development programming in the ways that home-based businesses are. So, I'm not surprised that there's this disparity in terms of industry, because I didn't even see an industry approach when it came to PPP. I didn't even see their outreach as being segmented as targeting any particular industry. So, I absolutely agree with Gigi, when it comes to these different facets and segmentations, that we have to figure out different strategies, because it's not a one-size-fits-all.

Bostic: Well, I would say that, for much of the thinking behind the relief packages early in the pandemic, it was just let's get something. And the business sectors are incredibly complex and incredibly diverse. And thinking about, how do you get things through federal government, finding, tapping into existing bank accounts and banks, and those relationships was something that people felt they could leverage. But the complexity meant that it didn't embrace the reality for so many small businesses, many of them in minority and lower-income communities.

Now, both Kelly and Gigi, you talked about this segmentation idea. Karama, you mentioned in your opening remarks segmentation by geography, not by sector, and the idea that a rural location for a small business presents special challenges. And if you look at the Sixth District, I think you put up a map of the Sixth District, almost all the space is rural, almost all of it. And so, this is an important factor for us. And when I think about, how do we keep rural communities alive and vibrant and continuing to be innovative, we've got to have answers for this. You mentioned broadband is one challenge. I'd be curious. Are there others that stand out? And then maybe if you have thoughts on ways to bridge that broadband divide, or others, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that as well.

Neal: Yes, so I appreciate that question. I think part of what is really important is the opportunity that is presented by rural communities and entrepreneurs in rural communities. So, I'm thoughtful about a woman who told me a story about a friend of hers who had an import business. She imported a small, low-cost sort of consumer goods, and then would resell them through social media, and she did all of this on her phone. And I was really impressed, because I can't do all that on my phone. But I'm thoughtful about what would that mean, what would her business look like if she had access to stable broadband, if she had access to a personal computer that she could use, if she could sell that stuff beyond just the local folks on her social media network, but throughout other kinds of networks.

So, I think it's important to sort of see the ingenuity, the work ethic of folks in rural communities, and recognize that there is certainly the ability to do more when there is that infrastructure and that additional support that is there. Part of what I think is also important to recognize, and I sit in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I'm part of the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve, of course, very similar kinds of demographics in a lot of ways, lots of rural areas just like the Sixth District.

Part of what I think is important to recognize is that all rural communities aren't necessarily built alike. And there's some really interesting data from the Serco Foundation, which takes a look at a county-by-county level to look at the vulnerability of communities to this pandemic. And what you find is, is that when you think about the existing inequities that were already here before the pandemic started, the pandemic's just exacerbated a lot of those issues. And so, what we find is that what we've been really intrigued about doing is putting resources in places that are most vulnerable. They may not be the same places that had frankly the highest public health impact, but they're the places that for any public health impact, they're going to suffer the most. They're going to be least able to recover.

So, for example, we've talked a little bit about, I've talked a lot about today already about the PPP program. And it's a great program. Our organization, we're a nonprofit CDFI loan fund. We work very closely with Southern Bancorp Bank, a CDFI bank who did the PPP program. As a CDFI, they were very intentional about being able to reach out to as many businesses as they could. The largest loan they did was a little over $4 million. The smallest loan was $200. But even in spite of that, they recognize that there were so many businesses—again, in the same rural areas where both of our organizations work—that could not access the PPP law.

I really appreciate Gigi's very inclusive definition of business, because what it recognizes is that the PPP program did not have the same kind of inclusive definition. So, we're really thoughtful about how are the ways we can drive capital to those businesses as well. We recognize that there's significant data that show that when people have…the farther someone is located away from a bank or a credit union, the more they pay for access to capital for their business.

And so, as we think about right now, particularly in rural areas, where folks are farther away from businesses, from insured financial institutions, what is that going to look like on the back end of this pandemic? If they've taken out loans that are very expensive, that frankly may even be predatory, how are their businesses going to survive through this pandemic and get to the other side of it? And it's not just the business for the business's sake, it's the business for the employees and for the customers of that business that make those, as we talked about, those communities run that's particularly important in rural areas.

Bostic: Well, it's so interesting, I listened to you because as you were talking, I was thinking, well, one solution to this proximity issue might be accessing a digital bank or relying upon some more digital types of interfaces that don't require you to be right next to a bank, but then that goes right back to the broadband issue. And it goes right back to the ability to really use a lot of the more modern tools that are really supposed to be reducing the barriers to access but may not be doing that effectively.

So, this broadband issue and the ability to really leverage technology and that baseline physical infrastructure is something that we've really got to unpack a lot, particularly in rural communities. This is true in urban places as well. And I do want to say that, but in the rural, this is like A1 for so many issues, that we really have to figure this out. You mentioned, Karama, Gigi's comment about the fact that a new definition for business, and what business is supposed to be about. And I wanted to ask Gigi maybe to expand on this a little bit. A lot of people when they're growing up, and if they think about being a business owner, the narrative that they're given or the picture they're given is, you want to start small and grow this business to have hundreds of employees and millions of dollars of revenue and all that kind of stuff. Is that the right way to think about this? And is that really the experience of many of the businesses that you guys work with?

Pedraza: Thank you for the question. This is one of the issues I'm more passionate about because to us, to the Latino Community Fund, the way we define businesses is, if you engage in commercial activity, that is the simple definition, then you are an entrepreneur. And there are a number of definitions out there, and they are all over the place. What is a small business? Is it under $500,000? Is it under a million? Depending on who you ask. For us, because we did this study, we really focus on commercial activity for a number of reasons.

One, because there are some policy implications that really create an obstacle for folks to incorporate and have a business license, particularly in Georgia. Well, anybody can incorporate it with the IRS [Internal Revenue Service], get an EIN [employer identification number] and everything. In Georgia, for example, you have to sign an affidavit noting that you are either a citizen or a legal permanent resident to be able to get a business license in Georgia. It's an obstacle for any businesses that actually want to have a storefront, that want to grow, or that want to apply for many of the technical assistance or programs that are offered that require that you have a business license.

And so, what it creates is this completely separate group of people engaging in commercial activities and sometimes employing folks and everything. They are just not visible to our own communities and to the communities in general. And there are significant outcomes connected to that. We know, for example, that civic participation, communities participate more civically when they see themselves reflected physically. And the number one thing is businesses, storefronts. We do not see that.

A lot of our businesses, for example, are women and men that engage in commercial activity [that] have to then operate from their vehicles, from their cars, or they have to go to our homes. We did an entire effort doing COVID relief to support undocumented business owners, since they were really unable to apply to any other type of relief. And when I was trying to fundraise, a lot of people were saying, "Oh, but who are these people? We don't know where they are." So, one of the questions that we asked on the screening was, where do you do business? And 84 percent of them do it from their cars or inside our homes, in yards, as caregivers, domestic workers, and those are businesses. So that's how we define and that's why it's so important, in our opinion, to expand the definition of who gets to be a business owner.

Neal: If I may chime in on that, I think that's really such an important point and it personally resonates with me. It was less than 10 years ago that I realized and really sort of took to heart that of my six parents and grandparents, five of them were business owners. That was never the way they were talked about. That's never what they talked about their businesses, but that's what they were.

And I think the reason I bring that up, I think it's important because if people don't see themselves as, "a business," because they don't meet that very technical SBA [Small Business Administration] definition, or whatever the definition is that's sort of circulating in the community, they don't know to take advantage of those services that are out there for businesses, because they don't see themselves in that way or they're not defined in that way by others.

And so, I think that's really important. We looked at the PPP program and recognized that there were so many people, business owners, who were not able to access those funds, people who had new businesses, people who had small businesses, people who had businesses who weren't registered, maybe a little less formal than the PPP guidelines require. We were able to raise funding for grants dollars, which frankly, the PPP program for most of the folks it is supposed to be a grant.

So, we were able to raise some additional grant dollars that we used for businesses just like that, and we did not require them, we very intentionally did not require them to show paperwork and documentation. Are you engaged in commercial activity? What is your business? Can we provide this grant for you? And we targeted, I mentioned that Serco Foundation, COVID community vulnerability index before, we targeted those funds to those communities that were most vulnerable. And so, that takes into account not just the pandemic, but also all the other previously existing kinds of challenges that many communities face. So, we're really, really pleased to do that. And I think it really is an example of thinking very inclusively about what a business is, and what it means to the people who work in that business, who own that business, who are served by that business.

Bostic: Well, this conversation reminds me of a conversation I had maybe two weeks ago with statisticians from the Census Department and asking them, who do you survey as a business, and almost much of that activity is focused on businesses that have multiple employees. You have to have other employees in order to even be under the umbrella. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting in that conversation was they have recognized that there are a lot of businesses that are not employer businesses. And they're working to develop some new tools to start to survey them and connect with them. So, we get more sight lines into that experience, in terms of thinking about what a wraparound infrastructure might look like, so that we don't lose them, and they don't fall through the cracks. So, this is very interesting, and I'm hopeful that this type of conversation starts happening in a lot of different places, because this is relevant in a lot of different contexts, all of which are important for the success of these small businesses.

Now, I wanted to turn to Clint, and the question I was going to ask was, you talked about capital capacity in your opening remarks. And if you had to say, what's the one thing that keeps you from being able to give small businesses funds, these type of small business funds? Is it a business model? Is it financial capacity? Is it that they don't have enough documentation for you? What is it? Now if you have to rank-order that, like go the top two, what does that look like? Or maybe that's not even a good question. So, you can just answer different questions if you want to.

Gwin: No, I think it's a good question and a fair question, in fact, and I think some of it goes back to how Pathway Lending does some of our business, and then it piggybacks very well on Gigi's comment about commercial activity is the trigger for a business to be a business. And what we found a couple of places is that there are a lot of businesses in those informal economies, a lot of them in rural markets where somebody may work during the day at a manufacturing facility. But on the weekends, they have a bulldozer and they clear land.

And so, there are these multiple positions of a business. And so, for us at Pathway Lending, we look at when you become a business is when you produce a product or service, sell it, and collect the funds. At that point in time, we consider you a business. And with regard to what it takes to lend to those businesses, we're not a bank so we can take considerably more risks than a bank does. But we're also not a grant provider at the end of the day. And then we've got to manage risk much like anyone else. And it's the visibility on the repetition, if you will, of that ability to generate revenue.

And some of that has to be proven. And so, we start our clients a lot of times with what we call purchase order financing. If they get a contract, we'll finance that individual contract for them to let them produce that product or service, sell it, and get paid. We work them through a whole system so that it's not as regimented, but as a lender, not a grantor and not an equity provider, we have to have some visibility that we're going to get our funds back. We don't rely on credit scores. We know entrepreneurs are going to have bad credit scores, if they're true entrepreneurs. They're taking risk. And the only capital they're usually able to access is sometimes predatory and very high-cost capital that puts other aspects of the business at risk.

But it's really going back to that capacity piece, and we look at when we put money and resources to build capacity. We are an equity investor, because the resources we put in to build the capacity of the business are equity investments on our part. That's followed along with debt investments to help them execute a plan. But without forward visibility, it's really hard for, I think, any of us in the capital markets to be able to provide capital.

I think it also goes back to looking at a lot of the small businesses we work with are in very low-barrier-to-entry businesses, because they have very low wealth. And they have very low wealth to access home equity because of the historical problems associated with homeownership in some communities. And so, they choose to go into low-barrier-to-entry businesses, which as most of us in lending know, typically are retail or service, and typically have higher failure rates, which then prevent them access to traditional capital down the road.

And so, when you look at those different concepts, it's how do you bridge what we call an equity investment of capacity building with capital to help meet them where they are. And you look at the data in our portfolio for women- and minority- and veteran-owned businesses, the amount of revenue and the amount of capital they're requesting is historically 40 percent to 50 percent of what we see from businesses that are doing B2B [business to business] versus B2C [business to consumer], and getting more minority, women-owned, veteran-owned businesses in the B2B business is what's going to really generate the job creation and generate the wealth creation in those entrepreneurs.

Bostic: Well, Clint, you touched on so many systemic things like homeownership and access to home equity wealth as an underlying foundation, and many of these things for people of color, the systems have not really been structured to allow those things to accrue. So, there is a serious challenge here. And I think that one thing that's been very interesting, just in this conversation, is we're going to take that as a given, and we're going to still try to find solutions and that's I think the appropriate and proper mindset. I want to turn to Kelly before we open this up to the audience for a couple of questions. And let's stay in the solution space. So, we've talked about a lot of the issues, a lot of the challenges. Where do you see there are real opportunities to support these kinds of small businesses to help them be more successful?

Burton: Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to kind of piggyback a little bit on the conversation that you and Clint were just having about the wealth gap. And so, what we know is that the average white child enters the world with 10 times the inherited wealth as the average Black child, 8 times the inherited wealth of the average Latinx child. And that disparity plays out in every aspect of that person's life. It determines the hospital they're born in, the neighborhood they grow up in, the school they go to, the college they go to, if they go to college. And it shows up when you're an entrepreneur. There's also a kind of a 10x factor within small business. White-led firms generate 10 times the revenue of Black-led firms, 8 times the revenue of Latinx-led.

So, it's not to create a one-to-one relationship between how much money you entered the world with, the resources you entered the world with, the resources you're able to deploy on your business, but the disparity is real. And so, we really need to consider how do we approach this conversation through a racial equity lens? How do we rethink underwriting through a racial equity lens, and not expect Black and Brown folks to be able to check the same boxes as white folks? It just doesn't make any sense. Because it's like, you don't have the same ingredients going into the cake.

You got ingredients going into a cake, and then you got ingredients going into a cupcake, and you're expecting the cupcake ingredients to produce the cake. It just doesn't work that way. So, I think we really need to have a conversation around how we apply this work through a racial equity lens. So, going back to the question that you actually asked me, I think the tendency is to say, let's support small businesses. And right now, in the last year, based on the racial uprising, everybody is feeling very warm and fuzzy about supporting Black and Brown business. And that's great, but I don't expect that to last.

What we really need to do is figure out how we help our Black and Brown businesses build the sorts of capabilities that enable them to establish product market fit, that establish them to create customer acquisition and retention strategies, that allows them to add value within their industry. And that's about the development of our small businesses and the development of small business owners. That capacity building, that education, it's critical. People get into business because they're really good at what they do, making cakes, doing hair, doing marketing, as an attorney, whatever. They don't get into business because they're really good at running a business. That's something that they have to learn and figure out along the way, and it creates all sorts of barriers. So much of what it takes to build a business is totally counterintuitive to what got you there. So, we have to figure that out, how we really build up our infrastructure ecosystem to be able to support small business owners in ways that they need to effectively scale and grow.

Pedraza: Can I add something briefly? I think yes, but also, let's look at businesses within the larger ecosystem of our lives. The fact that access to education, the fact that we need a strong safety net for businesses to thrive, the fact that we need this funding knowledge, the fact that access to networks is directly connected to transportation and language and literacy issues, all of that is really important and we cannot operate in a vacuum, like let's just say, "Oh, this is the money available in the PPP. We have done enough." We need to look at the other factors to provide a wraparound support, because at the end of the day, business owners are people and we have all kinds of different needs. So that's all I wanted to say.

Gwin: Raphael, if I may, I'd like to add one thing that we've worked on—and we're working on a lot in the Memphis market right now—is changing the buying habits of large corporations. There are a lot of small businesses out there that can provide products and services to large corporations. Large corporations tend to buy in very large quantities, which limits the companies that are available to sell to them. And so, one of the things we're seeing in some of the work that's going on in Memphis, both in the public and private sector, is really rethinking how they buy product from their suppliers and cutting that up into more manageable and bite-sized pieces so that other businesses have access to sell into that channel.

When you look at nationally how much of the buying power is held in the top companies, getting to that demand side, I think, is every bit as important as getting to the supply side. We have entrepreneurs that can supply those products. They can supply 1,000 of them, but they probably can't supply a million of them. We had one client come to us that had got a 35-million-unit order for PPP that does about $1.5 million a year. I mean, the company was unwilling to break that order down for them to get it into their pie, if you will. And I think if we can work policywise with some of the buyers in the market, to help get the demand side for our smaller entrepreneurs, that that could really be a game changer across both urban and rural markets.

Bostic: Well, thank you. You guys put a lot in that answer. There's a lot of stuff going on there. I did want to say two things, and then we're just about out of time for this portion, so I'm going to ask you after I do my two things first, any closing thoughts that you might have. But it struck me. As a supplier, diversity issue is a big one. And it is about a mindset. We at our Bank, we're not doing so well in supplier diversity. And so, we decided we were going to, and we increased our supplier spend sixfold, actually, maybe even eightfold. And our finding, we don't have to sacrifice quality of product, quality of service. But it says intentionality and making sure that you're making your stuff available and accessible for bidding by minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses.

So that's an important thing. And then I did want to talk about this wealth issue because Kelly articulated it so well. There is a wealth penalty. If you don't have wealth, you are going to be penalized. And we need to think about how we minimize that wealth penalty, given that there are slices of our population, that for many, many years, and sometimes generations were not allowed to accrue any wealth. So, they're always going to be behind the eight ball in terms of getting anything to accomplish.

So, this rethinking is something that I've challenged the finance sector from an academic perspective to think about: how do you do this in a way that you provide real equal access to opportunity and not equal access to opportunity that's  still so heavily dependent on historical patterns of being able to accrue wealth? It's a huge, huge challenge. So, let's go to a roundtable, actually a go-around. I'll call them with some closing statements. And we will go in the opposite order. No, we'll go in the same way that we went to open. Kelly, why don't we start with you?

Burton: Systems, systems, systems, networks, networks, networks. There's a heavy focus on programming and funds. That's all well and good, but there's way too much fragmentation and folks operating in isolation. And it doesn't allow us to really achieve high levels of efficiency and effectiveness in the sector, in the space. If we're really concerned about impact, we need to figure out how we establish a network of network effects, really get serious about visioning the world we want to see for entrepreneurs of color. [In] 2050, this country is going to be a nation of minorities. We talk about in terms of majority, minority, we're all going to be minorities come 2050. It presents a tremendous opportunity for Black and Brown small businesses. But we've got 30, a good 25 years to cast a vision and back into that vision. I wish in the space I saw more big, bold ideas about how we get there and less kind of commiserating. So that's the work that we're doing at the Black Innovation Alliance, trying to really figure out how we provide some connective tissue to this space. So, thanks so much for the platform and the great conversation.

Bostic: The pleasure's mine. I think Gigi's next?

Pedraza: Sure. I am one of those former business owners, Clint, that was relatively successful and got offered a contract with a corporation to provide items from our line, my line of products, but that required me to get into a $100,000 loan to be able to afford the contract. I was a recent new mom. And I decided not to pursue it because the risk for my family, for what it meant, for my lease and to be able to afford living was too big. So, I said no, and I had to close the business a year later.

So, I just want to close with this because at the end of the day, this is about people. And this is about overwhelmingly small businesses that are at the core of Black, Brown, immigrant communities, communities of color that are also really the engine that support nonprofit organizations, through donations, through boards, through connections. So, when we talk about this, we're talking about an infrastructure that has a huge and significant impact in all of our communities. So, at the end of the day, all of our presents and futures and destinies are interconnected. And I have been seeing lots of questions on the chat around this focus. And this is not only the right thing to do, this is the smart thing to do. Because at the end of the day, we are the present and we are the future. So, thank you for the opportunity to join you.

Bostic: My pleasure. Karama, thank you.

Neal: Yeah. So again, I'm grateful for this opportunity to have this conversation. I think one of the key things I would leave with is really intentionality. We've talked a lot about a number of issues. And I think there are ways that we can be intentional about the work we're doing. I mentioned our grant program that we did to help businesses that were not able to access the PPP program. What I didn't mention, I'll just say now is that 80 percent of those grant recipients are business owners of color or women.

And we didn't target that on the application. But because of the way we designed it and because of how we targeted in terms of geography, that's who we touch. And of course, that's very different from what we're seeing in terms of anecdotal data around who at least in the first few rounds of the PPP, who got the PPP loans. I think that intentionality is important. I think that intentionality is important for now and it's important for the future. I saw some data this morning, actually from United Van Lines, talking about where people are moving. And the top 10 states where people are moving into right now, six of them are in the South: South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and Arkansas. And so when we think about the future and what that looks like, and how we prepare to make sure that those folks who are coming in and the people who are here are able to build their businesses, able to fund themselves, able to employ others, we've got to make sure that we are intentional around the work around racial equity, around access to capital, around ensuring that people have access to small business support services throughout our region and throughout our country.

Gwin: I think in my closing comments, one, I would like to thank Raphael and his whole team for putting this conversation together. It is very, very important. And as always, I learned from my panelists, friends, probably more than I do any other time that I participate in items like this. For us, I think it's twofold. I think we need to realize to some of the earlier points that rural and low-income urban communities are very, very similar in the needs that they have for both resources and capital. And as we go forward, we do need to be intentional, as was discussed previously, to make sure that those are dedicated resources, and that they're not onetime resources as we've seen during this pandemic.

And then second to that, it is broadening the awareness of the opportunities to the broader commercial markets, companies, investors, of the opportunities that these are not high-risk opportunities. These are the same opportunities that people have been taking for decades and decades and hundreds of years to be entrepreneurs, and they have a very high success rate. If you look at the success rate of CDFIs and funding entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, small businesses, all the programs that are out there, because there is the assistance and the capital, the success rate to get these folks to the next level and enter the traditional system is very high. And I think we really need to promote that to the broader community, that there are systems in place that can work. Yes, we know they need some tweaking, and we know they need to be more interconnected. But a lot of the groundwork and a lot of the base of the pyramid is here. It just needs to continue to be built.

Bostic: So, I would agree with that. And I would also say, if we can find ways to take those models that work and lift them up so we can get them to scale and present in a broader set of communities that could use them, that there's real value in that as well. We have a couple of questions that I wanted to turn to with the remainder of our time. First is to you, Clint, and specifically, has your business used payment or personal rent or mortgage as an alternative way for a business to establish good credit for loans? And do you have a credit card that is backed by business savings?

Gwin: Pathway as a nondepository CDFI, we're a nonprofit economic development entity. We do look at alternative credit criteria with regard to establishing credit history. As I mentioned before, we don't rely on a business's or an entrepreneur's credit score as our determinant. Most of our lending is $100,000 or less. And so, we have a lot of flexibility in how we validate that. It is not probably the most efficient model in the world, because we really underwrite and try to understand the business and what its opportunity is. I think the best way to describe it is as one of my team members, Hank Helton, says, "We take a short look back and a long look forward when we look at a business." And so, history is not always a determinant of the future. And so, we want to understand where the business is going and how it's going to get there. So, to the first point, no, we don't offer a credit card. That would be a neat idea. I'm figuring that one out. I'll work on it. And then secondly, with regard to alternative factors, with regard to capacity to pay, we do, we look at all of those factors.

Bostic: Thanks. And that was a question from Michelle Thompson. The next question is from Lynnette White-Colin. She knows that venture capital companies don't consider underserved start-ups at all. And that equity has got to be thought of as an alternative contributor to businesses, in addition to the debt financing that is so common. So she asked a provocative thought, which is, do you think that the Treasury Department should do the same thing for equity investment that they do for lending capital through the CDFIs, where they make some money available for underserved entrepreneurs to start, to test their models, and really get to learn through those initial investments? So, what's your thought on that? And this is a more general question.

Neal: I'll start and maybe sort of an indirect way to answer it. I do think that it is absolutely critical that we think about all different forms of capital. I think people default to loans, because that's what's sort of familiar, but we don't think necessarily about match savings accounts, which our organization is able to offer where someone saves and they have had that savings match and are able to use that to build their business. Our grants, our equity, and I think part of the challenge, I don't know how this would look at the federal level, but part of the challenge is rethinking what the expectations are around an equity investment.

If everyone assumes they're going to get a hockey stick return, that might not be the best model for businesses that they don't have that expectation of hiring 700 employees over the next five years. They're happy with the 5 employees they have, or they have 1 and they want to get to 5, and they're going to be good. And that's okay. And so, I think really reframing the expectations, just in general, around what equity returns look like, what is the timeline for those returns? What is the scale of those returns? How those returns are collected, is it you expect that return over time? Are you tying that to revenue? Are you tying that to sales? How are we structuring the equity environment so that, frankly, it can be more equitable, so that you can have…more people can have access to that type of capital because I think the questioner is exactly right. Equity is a source of capital that is really critical. And I think the other thing I'd say, too, is that for so many, in so many cases, equity is just like we talk about oftentimes in the CDFI loan fund model, equity is tied to TA [technical assistance] and tied to support. And I think that can be really critical in helping businesses survive and thrive as well.

Gwin: I think one thing I would add to that is we do some patient capital investing, if you will. It has a debt component to it, but it's very patient capital. If you look at the purpose of equity, it's typically to build or scale. And when we look at that concept of, okay, we're going to put in very patient money, three- or four- or five-year money, where we're only taking a small interest payment during that whole period, with the expectation that the business is going to invest in internal capacity and scale its sales. That's not something that as you mentioned, entrepreneurs are used to. They're used to just a car loan or a home loan or a credit card loan. And so there also needs to be a shift in what the types of capital that are available are. We're not looking for a large return on our money when we do that. We really just want our money back. But we got a pool of capital that has that option to it. And it's been surprising, it's been a little challenging to get that money out, in all honesty, because it doesn't look like everything else everybody's seeing.

And so, equity in my mind is long-term capital, however you want to look at it, price it, whatever it is. And it is greatly needed in a lot of these businesses if they are going to get, especially into higher-barrier-to-entry businesses, which I think is the key for long-term job creation, sustainability, and wealth creation in the communities that we serve.

Bostic: All right, well, I just said, there's one more question here, and this will probably be the last one before we have to wrap up. It's actually more of an observation from Ann Bass, going back to this issue about definitions of businesses and the motivation for many businesses is actually just to build family income, as opposed to creating jobs or starting a large business or having a large business. And so, when you think about shifting the focus and the mindset, how do we think about making all of those different motivations transparent for someone who's thinking about their options moving forward, that it's okay to just try to create a bit more stability and a foundation underneath you? Are there ways that you have in mind or have thought about to really project that optionality?

Gwin: I think for us, we call them lifestyle businesses, that they are meant to enhance the quality of life and the wealth of the entrepreneur. And it may be a 1 person, or it may be 5, or it may be 10, but they're not planning to sell the business, they don't want to scale it to a huge level. They just want to send their kids to college, make their mortgage payment, have a car, go on vacation. And we're big fans of those businesses. That is the vast majority of the businesses that we see in the country and in the markets we serve. And without them, there's a lot of missing pieces in the whole puzzle. So, the whole scale and sell, that's not who we see. We see the folks who just want a little better life for the next generation of their family.

Neal: I'd just like to add to that, too. I think we see a lot of those businesses as well. And that's who employs folks, particularly in rural areas. Part of what we're thoughtful about as well, I know there are others who are working intently on this issue, too, is what happens when those folks decide that they no longer need that business? What happens to those 5 employees or those 10 employees? And so I think there could be some real options for intentionality around thinking about how do those businesses get sold, not at some megaprice that you're going to have a hockey stick return, but so those jobs can still stay in the community, so that business is still operational.

And I think again, that's particularly critical in places where you may only have a few of those businesses in that sector that are operational. That's important for the community as a whole. So, I think there are some options around that. And again, it is important for folks to recognize it. I think oftentimes, you're right, folks, just like I talked about it for myself even thinking about what is a business and how do you qualify for that, and what are your options in terms of what that business looks like? You know what you see, and sometimes you don't know what you don't see. So, I think it's important for us to share those options with them.

Burton: Yeah, Karama, I was about to say the exact same thing. It's hard to be it if you don't see it. I mean, I go back to Raphael, you said something earlier that made me giggle. You said when we were little, we're taught to be entrepreneurs, and that you're supposed to go to this big business, but I grew up in Camden, New Jersey. And the most successful entrepreneur in my community was the guy who ran the mortuary, like the funeral home, and every urban community's got the guy who runs the funeral home, and it's the business that's the most long-standing business. They've been there for 100 years.

So that was the most successful business owner that I knew when I grew up. I didn't come into entrepreneurship thinking I wanted to grow my business. But the more that I met other entrepreneurs who were growing their business, the more I wanted to grow my business. And we've seen it in a lot of our cohort programming where people come in with very limited, low ceiling on the potential and possibility in the business. And then you get them in there, and you look under the hood, and you're like, "Oh, my God, this is a treasure trove of possibility." And they're like, "Really?" And so a lot of it is just exposing our entrepreneurs of color to the possibilities, not putting judgment on it to say, if you're going to be a business, you've got to be a big business, but to say, "There are all sorts of options and variety, and they provide you different things. Let's expose you to it all, so that you can rightly choose what is good for you and your family."

Pedraza: And I would like to add, and I think this is the other side of the coin, understanding what it takes. Because for us, I will never forget meeting with a couple of our member organizations, actually, North Fulton County, and saying that the largest percentage of a growing group of folks that were at risk of homelessness were these young, vibrant Latinos that because of a lot of the outreach that's been done by a number of organizations, corporations, institutions, things that entrepreneurship, if something succeeds, and they invest and get into loans and invest their money. And without the financial education and understanding what it takes to get to be successful, it becomes a personal liability and they lose everything. And so, yes, it's great. There are great opportunities, but also understanding what it takes to get there, the number of hours required, the type of education, the type of resources that we need to explore to continue with this idea is also really important.

Bostic: Well, that's exactly right. Entrepreneurship is hard and it's risky. It's why I went to be a professor. Give me tenure, and I'm done, that's good. But it takes a lot. And you need to know that going in so you can get success. Listen, just to wrap up, just one reflection I had, I want to go back to where we started, which is about getting some infrastructure and building infrastructure to allow all of this information to be more easily available and accessible to entrepreneurs, wherever they are and whatever they have in their mind.

And it occurs to me that there may be a possibility for a role for philanthropy in this. In our Bank, we are trying to talk to funders networks, to give them thoughts on things that they might support to try to provide some foundation for a number of communities across the Sixth District. This seems like something I'm going to add to my list to have conversations with them about because there are some definite ideas here.

And then a second thing that came to my mind was you guys are all fielding questions and having answers and all that kind of stuff, it occurred to me that there may be an opportunity to build some kind of clearinghouse where we compile all of this stuff so that it is in one place, and so that we are creating our own shared knowledge network that others can tap into. It would be great if it could be online, but there just its existence and make it easy for people to be aware of that would be tremendously valuable.

And I'm going to talk about to my research communities and my academics, we need to know a whole lot more about the realities of small businesses. That's one thing that's come out really loud and clear through this whole pandemic, that we don't really know a lot about the station of small businesses, what things expose them to risk, and what things can really make a huge difference. Maybe there are small things that can make a big difference to make them more secure and more resilient. And that knowledge is not really present in the policy space to the extent that it needs to be.

So, Gigi, Karama, Clint, and Kelly, I want to thank you all for agreeing to take some time and share your wisdom and knowledge and your passion with us. This has been a great conversation. I'm not a small business guy foundationally. But I learned a ton and I really enjoyed listening to you. And hopefully, we will be able to have more conversations in the future. So, I just want to thank you. This has been fantastic.

And to our listeners and those who have been viewing us, I want to thank you all for participating in the webinar. This has been a great amount of information. I hope you've gotten as much out of it as I have and I'm hopeful that you appreciate our understanding, our passion that small businesses really are an essential part of our economy and communities across the Southeast, and indeed, across the entire United States. And in our District, they're particularly important because we have so many small towns, where small businesses are what's driving their existence, and that's what's keeping them alive and afloat. So, we can't afford to ignore them. It's one of the reasons why we're standing up this series. And I really do think that, that I really appreciate you joining us. And hopefully, you'll bring this knowledge out and share it with the communities that you operate in.

Now, because this is so important, we're not doing this as a one-off. As you know, this is a series. The next small business webinar that we're going to have will be on Thursday, February 25. So, keep an eye out for that. And please, I hope you're willing to join, willing and able to join that. I will also say that a number of the conversation topics today touched on some systemic issues around racism and how a history of racism has created barriers, erected barriers that have made it harder for people of color to proceed. We've had and we are running a Racism and the Economy webinar series as well. We had just one on education a couple days ago. We are going to have one on housing. That's the next one. That will be in March. Please keep an eye out for announcements for that. And I hope you register. One of the things we've tried to do with those is keep them raw and real, and not have them be sort of the usual Federal Reserve stodgy thing. And I think we've succeeded so far and we're going to continue with that.

So, I'm hopeful that you enjoyed our programs. And if you want to know more generally about the programs that we have, I would ask that you sign up for our newsletter. And that way, you will get regular updates of everything that we're doing. And to do that, there's a number of tools online I'm just seeing here that are accessible. But to get to our newsletter, text the word F, text the letters FRBA, that stands for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and you text that to the number 33777. That will get you onto our list. And you will get our weekly updates about all the things that were going on.

So, with that, I'm going to close the program. I want to thank, well, first of all, before I do that, I want to thank my team. You saw them earlier, David, Janelle, Mary, and a host of other people in the background. They do a great job making sure that we stay on top of the issues that are relevant, and that are the ones that if we can find solutions can help communities and families really do much better. We're trying to create an economy that works for all people, and we're going to be committed to that for the foreseeable future. So, thank you for participating in today's session. Hopefully, you have a good rest of the week and a great weekend. Please stay safe and have a great day.