BY JALESSA NEAL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Resources That Can Save Small Businesses
Cutline: Althea Kennedy, Assistant VP And Small Business Consultant, Bank of America, Winter Springs
According to an annual Black Business Owner Report, conducted by Bank of America, over the past six months 78% of business owners had concerns about the impact of the pandemic and 71% had concerns about the political climate. No doubt, these two crises have had a major impact on small business owners, that is why Bank of America is working hard to provide resources to help such ones.
“Historically, businesses in general, have the challenges of how to best manage cash flow and how to meet the demands that their business requires. Before the pandemic, business owners felt that they had to work harder than their counterparts to be able to scale their business and with the pandemic it has created more of an impact by compounding these issues,” said Althea Kennedy, Assistant VP and Small Business Consultant, Bank of America, Winter Springs.
She noted that some challenges, such as receiving capital, go back to historical challenges faced by the Black community. Many Black business owners don’t have early exposure to the resources that can help them succeed.
“The incoming cash is so vastly reduced for business owners, especially black business owners, these owners are now relying on eligibility to gain those resources and they may be lacking,” she said. “When I ask [businesses owners] if they’ve taken advantage of the Payment Protection Program, they respond that they don't think they qualify because unfortunately many of them believe that there are some eligibility requirements based on revenue.”
Kennedy’s office supports Oviedo, Winter Park, and the greater Orlando area. She works as a local resource for small business owners to help them achieve their goals. She has also co-chaired the Black Professional Association, which has launched a Black Professional Orlando Chamber. She works with those in the community to help educate small business owners.
“By far Bank of America surpassed others in modern banking and convenience. Also high on my list of wants was the "small community feeling" from a local bank. From the moment I walked in the bank and met Althea Kennedy for the first time she made my wife and myself feel like family,” said Gene Johnson, owner and operator of Tuffy of Winter Springs.
Johnson is among the various business owners who has benefitted from Kennedy and Bank of America’s services.
“I was truly taken back and grateful,” said Johnson.
The assistance he received has improved his business, he notes that the processing equipment is five stars, his customers constantly comment on the ease of doing business, and his choice of using quick books software, which Bank of America integrates, has made his accountant is incredibly pleased.
“I would suggest a bank with software that allows you to focus your time on your customers’ needs and wants. Since the Pandemic even more so the customer demand is for quick, contactless, and just a different way of doing things. Bank of America has freed up my time so our customers can get our complete attention and get on with their day,” he said.
Johnson recently retired from a large worldwide automotive repair and maintenance company located in Winter Springs, FL. Although retired he still had a desire to be part of the community so he purchased the Tuffy Auto on Red Bug Lake Rd. They’ve teamed up with companies such as AAA and now give nationwide warranties.
“Instead of having the prices of the big dealerships or large chain repair facilities we can offer more down to earth, lower prices and local conveniences,” he said. “Having an effective bank your side, with efficient systems in place, gives my team and I, the freedom to focus on the community we serve.”
A business owner does not need to be a current account holder with Bank of America to benefit from their resources. All are welcome to reach out for more information and assistance.
“I pride myself on being a resource for all business owners,” said Kennedy. Noting the previously mentioned annual Black Business Owner Report, there is optimism among black business owners: 48% of them expect revenue to increase, 44% believe that the local economy will improve, and by 2030 black business owners expect to see greater representation in STEM and executive roles.
“Overall black business owners remain resilient and optimistic about the path forward,” said Kennedy. “The future is really bright and Bank of America is going to be spearheading what that future entails and [helping] them achieve the success that they are aspiring to have.”
To contact Althea Kennedy email her at email@example.com or call 407.986.1536. For other information visit bankofamerica.com/sbresources.