Comcast said Tuesday that it will give $10,000 grants, make free commercials, and offer other support to small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philadelphia media giant said it plans to help thousands of businesses over the next three years, especially Black-owned firms that have suffered the most during the crisis. The company noted that the number of Black business owners in the U.S. plummeted 41% from February to April, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. By comparison, overall small-business ownership dropped 22% during the same period.
The support from Comcast comes as local government and business leaders have pushed for supporting diverse businesses to help fuel an economic recovery. Even before the pandemic, there were huge racial disparities in business ownership in Philadelphia, with far fewer businesses owned by people of color, according to recent research from Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center City District. Meanwhile, the number of small businesses open in the Philadelphia region was down 24% from January to September, according to the research group Opportunity Insights.
Black-owned small businesses can now apply for marketing, technology support, and equipment from Comcast. That includes free production of a 30-second commercial, a 90-day media campaign, and marketing consulting from Effectv, Comcast’s ad sales division.
The company also promised to give firms equipment and free internet, voice and cybersecurity services for as long as to a year.
Comcast said it will also award grants of as much as $10,000 each for small and diverse businesses. The company didn’t disclose how many firms would receive grants or how much the initiative would cost the company, saying only that “thousands” of firms would receive support.
“We see and know firsthand how vital small businesses are in powering economic growth, recovery and innovation,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, senior vice president for digital and customer experience at Comcast Business. “Now more than ever, driving awareness and maintaining a strong digital presence are crucial for these businesses to succeed.”
A second wave of the program will open up eligibility to include Indigenous and other people of color. Eligible firms can apply at ComcastRISE.com. Businesses must be based in the U.S., at least 51% Black-owned and operated, and in business for at least a year to qualify. In addition, all small businesses can sign up for free marketing insights and resources, the company said.
The support for small businesses is part of a larger $100 million initiative that Comcast launched in June to combat racial injustice.