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Dauphin County and Harrisburg collaborate to provide resources to minority-owned businesses

Officials will conduct a disparity study of minority-owned businesses in Harrisburg in order to provide support.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Harrisburg and Dauphin County leaders are on a mission to support minority-owned businesses.

Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams and Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Preis announced on Wednesday they are helping launch a disparity study. The study hopes to identify any inequities among Harrisburg businesses and how the city's government can better assist the under-resourced businesses.

"This is the first of many important steps to creating that better tomorrow for Harrisburg," said Williams.

Collectively, the city of Harrisburg, Dauphin County and the nonprofit organization Impact Harrisburg have paid $250,000 to the consulting firm Econsult Solutions to examine how officials can assist diverse businesses. 

Each entity contributed $83,333 towards the project.

The study will focus on minority-owned businesses and businesses owned by women, veterans, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) people and people with disabilities.

"We all see what goes on and [you] don’t need statistics to tell you that there have been inequities in regards to minority-owned and controlled businesses," said Karl Singleton, Harrisburg's Chief Equity and Compliance Officer.

Timothy Buffington, a manager at Isabelle's Soul Food Restaurant in Harrisburg, said he did not know where to find grants that were available to small business owners during the height of pandemic.

"They gave the money to the wrong people," said Buffington. "Even for us, we didn’t get any assistance. We didn’t even know any were available for that matter."

Buffington said he hopes the city and county will alert more Black-owned businesses when federal grants are available in the future.

The study is scheduled to begin this month and will be completed next year.

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