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Utah Business

Comcast announces the Comcast RISE program to help small business owners deal with the challenges of the pandemic.

Comcast RISE helps small business owners navigate pandemic challenges

Even the worst of times can bring the best of opportunities. That sentiment drives Comcast’s breakthrough program, Comcast RISE, which helps small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) that have faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the ongoing impact of the pandemic, social unrest, and environmental events, BIPOC-owned small businesses have been some of the hardest hit. Between February and April 2020, the number of active Black-owned businesses declined by 41 percent; Latin-owned businesses declined by 32 percent; and Asian-owned businesses dropped by 25 percent, versus just 21 percent for the general population, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Comcast RISE invests in the success of these critical businesses by providing valuable and practical support.

This multi-year commitment to provide marketing, creative, media and technology services to BIPOC-owned small businesses is exactly the support that can propel a company to the next level. 

Such support is ideal for entrepreneurs pursuing their passion but needs expertise in areas not in their particular skill set.

Suazo Business Center, a non-profit organization, located in Salt Lake City, has been working with BIPOC entrepreneurs, business owners, and their families for almost two decades. They have been partners with Comcast through much of the launch of the Comcast RISE program. Suazo’s clients are, by and large, the exact types of businesses Comcast is looking to support. Through the RISE initiative, these underserved small businesses can utilize Comcast’s support to help their businesses thrive during these times of uncertainty. The Suazo Center understands these small businesses because they are coming into the market already disadvantaged. Having the ability to receive the Comcast RISE program’s support will help level the playing field for BIPOC business owners.

Qualifying businesses can receive one or more of the following services:

  • Marketing and advertising consultation
  • Advertising placements
  • Commercial creative production services
  • Technology services from Effectv and/or Comcast Business

This service provides professional, turnkey production of a 30-second TV commercial, plus media strategy consultation and an advertising placement schedule.

Award recipients also receive computer equipment and Internet, voice and cybersecurity services for one year because these tech components are vital to operating a business and connecting with customers and prospects.

Nationally, recipients in 285 cities in 29 states include a diverse mix of small businesses from restaurants and salons to professional services and retail shops. In addition, 3,300 small businesses have already applied to receive the Comcast RISE monthly newsletter, which offers free marketing advice and resources. 

People of color, and by extension, BIPOC small business owners, have been disproportionally affected by the COVID pandemic. The Hispanic and Native American communities have been the most tragically affected by the virus. Luckily, organizations like Comcast and the Suazo Busines Center have been at the forefront of helping these communities weather the storm. Since the pandemic began, Suazo has continued to provide tools for their clients and launch a virtual resource program, Al Día con Suazo (in English, up to date with Suazo), focused on informing the community about important facts and issues affecting all of us. They implemented and transitioned to virtual workshops, mentorship, and support to all affected business owners and others impacted by the virus.

Suazo has been working closely with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and other area municipalities to assist in our communities’ economic recovery. They have partnered with Comcast to continue these awareness campaigns, bring valuable resources to affected BIPOC small business owners, and work on the front lines to provide the necessary support to these businesses. The Comcast RISE program has been an important part of the work being done to reinforce our business communities. 

Created to invest in these critical businesses’ success by providing valuable and practical support, the RISE program has already awarded BIPOC-owned small businesses in Utah with its first RISE awards.

In December 2020, Utah’s first Comcast RISE recipients included five Black-owned businesses, i.e., Caribbean Nightingale LLC, Provo; Chef Jean-Roody LLC, Salt Lake City; Pretty Please Teethers LLC, West Haven; ManCave Barbershop, Layton; and Isha Esthetics, Murray.

To be considered, businesses in Utah must have been operating for three years to five years. 

While the first round of awards focused on hard-hit Black-owned businesses, the next round will reach even more of the small Utah businesses still working to survive during the pandemic.

Comcast is now accepting applications for the next phase of RISE grants until the May 7, 2021 deadline. 

I encourage all businesses that meet the criteria to apply today at comcastrise.com.

Sylvia Castro is the executive director of the Suazo Business Center.

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