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New York City has launched a new campaign titled Shop Your City: BE NYC, designed to encourage New Yorkers to shop at Black-owned businesses, which account for 3.5 percent of the total in the city.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every small business in our city — but our Black businesses have been hit especially hard,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “BE NYC is part of our commitment to create a recovery for all New Yorkers and help our small businesses succeed in this pandemic and beyond.”

Launched during Black History Month, the campaign will spotlight Black businesses on social media that have continued to operate and serve their communities throughout the pandemic; offer online resources to help New Yorkers discover and shop at the City’s Black-owned small businesses, and encourage New Yorkers to tag a small Black-owned business on Instagram.

In addition, the city’s Department of Small Business Services will host a Black History Month roundtable on Feb. 25 which will highlight “past and present examples of resilience, resourcefulness and reimagination within the Black business community and overall lessons for New York City’s economic recovery,” it said. Panelists will include Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson; Les Matthews, executive vice president of data and services Mastercard; writer and social entrepreneur Christina Lewis, and Gary Stewart, founder and chief executive officer of FounderTribes, a company that helps entrepreneurs find capital to launch and scale their businesses.

According to the mayor, Black businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic and are twice as likely to shut down. As a whole, these businesses experienced a 41 percent decrease in activity between February and April 2020 alone.

“Black businesses have taken a tremendous hit because of this pandemic. BE NYC, the city’s first initiative to fight the racial wealth gap, will continue to find new and creative ways to support these businesses,” said Thompson. “The Shop Your City: BE NYC campaign will urge New Yorkers to shop local and help our small businesses come back stronger than ever.”

“Black businesses aren’t just places to purchase goods and services. They serve as cornerstone centers for communities across the City and resource hubs to share critical information with neighbors,” said Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, adding, “Now more than ever, shopping locally can make or break a business. Shop Your City: BE NYC, will encourage New Yorkers to shop at local Black-owned businesses during Black History Month and beyond.”

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