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Raising Funds For Chicago's Black Business Community Hit By COVID-19

CHICAGO (CBS) --  While COVID-19 is a health crisis, it's also an economic crisis.

And black businesses are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus.

CBS 2's Jim Williams has more on the efforts to help them.

West Garfield Park cannot afford to lose a single business. Take a look at one short stretch of  of Madison Street.

At the MP Mall in West Garfield Park, young black entrepreneurs find a welcome launching pad: Affordable rent and the camaraderie of small business owners in one location.

The devastation of COVID-19 is at 3973 West Madison where businesses are closed.

"Every single one," said Mike Remert, the manager of the MP Mall.

More than a dozen black owned businesses closed. Down the street at Bettie Johnson's Taste Bud restaurant, a the window is open for carry-out. But business here is down 75%.

"There's usually a line down the block. Now, only two or three customers," Johnson said.

Just as the coronavirus has been especially devastating for the health of Chicago's black community, the black business community here is suffering too.

The U.S. Black Chamber Of Commerce is showing African American businesses across the country how to get money from the Federal Rescue package. And in Chicago, a relief fund has been set up for African American businesses and non-profit groups.

Siri Hibbler leads the Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce.

"Creating a fund like this, investing in our own community, we can help ensure that most of, if not all of these businesses, can stay in businesses," Hibbler said.

But building a relief fund takes time. And employees at the closed MP Mall on Madison are in such distress, they're asking Mike Remert for loans.

"Just to buy food for the family," Remert said.

Organizers of the relief fund hope to start providing grants in two weeks to a month.

How much money would be in the fund and can anyone contribute?

Short term, a million dollars in the fund. But they vow to push for $100 million to help businesses and non profits long after the worst of COVID-19 is over.

They're accepting donations from anyone.

For more information on how to contribute, go to the Cook County Black Chamber of Commerce website for details.

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