The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Main Street, with small businesses across the U.S. closing by the thousands. But as bad as the scene is overall, researchers from IU say for minority-owned businesses, the picture is even bleaker. In fact, a recent survey from Small Business Majority found that almost one in five Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs are expected to permanently close their business over the next three months, a rate higher than for white business owners. Additionally, a report from the Federal Reserve of Cleveland suggested that the impact of the coronavirus could be over two times larger for Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses than for white-owned enterprises. IU scholars Carlos Avenancio-Leon and Isaac Hacamo say even before the pandemic, Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses were more vulnerable to economic downturns. Minority-owned businesses tend to have lower levels of capital than white-owned businesses, making it harder for them to safeguard against unexpected economic downturns. Additionally, Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses tend to concentrate in areas and industries that have been especially heavily affected by the pandemic, such as retail and the restaurant business. The IU researchers say minority-owned businesses in need are also less likely to benefit when the government offers aid in a crisis, which appears to be happening during the pandemic. Research found that the Paycheck Protection Program, created by the federal government to assist small businesses hurt by coronavirus lockdowns, was inequitably distributed, with the bulk of the funds given to businesses in neighborhoods with low shares of Black and Hispanic residents. The delay in federal help to minority business owners may have been critical, given the large fraction of business closures that took place in the early months of the pandemic. IU scholars say to mitigate the disproportionate effects of the downturn on minority-owned businesses, it is crucial that the Biden administration begin to target more of its small business aid to Black and Hispanic enterprises and to the worst-hit communities. The consequence of not ensuring more equitable aid is further suffering in the Black and Hispanic business community.
In other news, almost two months into the new year, some people may be backsliding on their new year’s resolutions to exercise more. But IUPUI expert NiCole Keith says you don’t have to have a gym membership or a large chunk of time to exercise. In fact, she says you can squeeze some of the best moves for your body into a busy workday if you remember that all movement counts. Keith says there are three simple exercises everyone can easily add to their workday. The first is simple: walk more. Keith says adding more steps to your day has been found to boost metabolism, decrease risk of chronic diseases like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes and enhance mood, reduce stress and improve sleep. For those who cannot find time for a stroll, Keith suggests finding little ways like parking farther away from your office or if you are working from home, to walk around while on a call. In addition to walking, Keith suggests stair climbing, which doesn’t require any special equipment. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or climb your stairs at home. Keith says to get the benefits of stair climbing, you don’t have to break a sweat, you just have to be breathing a little harder. Even low- or moderate-intensity stair climbing increases blood flow, which promotes both heart health and brain function. Finally, Keith says add some squats to your daily routine. Squats work your entire lower body, including muscles you use all day long. The benefits to squats and other forms of strength training include improved bone density, cardiovascular health and mood. Whatever you chose, Keith says the idea is get moving. Even simple movements can make a big impact.