Taking Flight

Silver Lining

Businesses get a boost after disaster strikes.

By Natasha Emmons

Hurricane Andrew dealt a devastating blow to South Dade County, Florida, businesses when it ripped through the area in 1992. But there's a silver lining: Part of an $850,000 grant from the federal Hurricane Andrew Recovery and Rebuilding Fund is being doled out as five individual $75,000 awards to African-American entrepreneurs who want to open a business.

Ribbons have already been cut on a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, an Almost Heaven hot tub store, and an Ace America's Cash Express check cashing and financial services operation. A Denny's restaurant and a Texaco are in the works, according to Ed Brown, franchise development director for the program's administrator, the Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP) Trust.

The advocacy group says African-American-owned businesses are typically less likely to reopen than others hit by the storm because of their size, lack of funds and lack of insurance. The program was tailored to franchises because they offer a proven product and support services.

The rest of the grant money goes toward a youth entrepreneurial training program. "We want to show them [they should aspire to be] honest, hard-working people," Brown says.

Brown looks to grow MMAP into a clearinghouse for African-American business opportunities in the Miami area and hopes it will be a model for African-American business groups nationwide. For more information, call (305) 252-5815

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Taking Flight.

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