Anchorage's city-owned start-up fund now dedicated to minority businesses - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 22, 2021
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Anchorage’s city-owned start-up fund now dedicated to minority businesses

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The 49th State Angel Fund had a problem: Too many of its investments were going to white people.

It has addressed that problem by creating a new fund focusing many of its available dollars on a race-based formula for Alaska entrepreneurs.

The fund, owned by the Municipality of Anchorage and seeded with $13.5 million in U.S. tax dollars, launched a “Building Equity Co-investment Fund” that will match investments made in Alaska minority-owned companies.

That means for every dollar a minority entrepreneur can raise from another source, the municipal fund will match it.

To create the fund, the 49th State Angel Fund took money from other investment funds under its management.

The new “Building Equity Co-investment Fund” has a stated preference for applications from businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).

Those business owners are also eligible to apply for the other half of the funds in the program. And to make it work, for every dollar invested in a white-owned business, the fund has a rule that it must invest an equal amount in a minority-owned business. But there is no such cap on minority businesses.

The term BIPOC is often loosely defined, but generally excludes fair-skinned redheads and may or may not apply to those of Asian descent. Not a universally embraced term, a number of Indigenous leaders around the continent bristle at being lumped in with other minorities in the “BIPOC” acronym because they feel it diminishes their First People status.

Alaska is populated mainly by those of European or Asian/Hispanic heritage, at over 70%. The next largest racial group is Alaska Natives, at 15.6%. African-Americans make up under 4% of the population.

Ironically, the Building Equity Co-investment Fund is managed by two middle-aged fair-skinned men. In fact, the 49th State Angel Fund advisory committee is largely made up of those with “cooler” skin tone.

Director Baca was hired by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, and the director of portfolios, Melanie Lucas-Conwell, is a recent transplant from San Francisco. Or colonist, to use the proper terminology. Both appear to be of European heritage.

49th State Angel Fund Advisory Committee.

The 49th State Angel Fund was also recently given a no-bid contract to assist in choosing recipients for the CARES Act grants for artists.

The municipality set aside $24 million of COVID-19 CARES Act funds for individual artists and the hospitality industry.

Earlier this year, Assembly Chair Felix Rivera’s said he would use the CARES Act money to create something called “equity” in Anchorage. He said that if the CARES Act funds for businesses did not address systemic racism, he would not approve them.

When asked by Assembly member Jamie Allard if the municipality had put the the distribution of the artist grants out to bid, or just awarded it to the in-house 49th State Angel Fund, Director Erin Baca rolled her eyes and made faces. Anchorage CFO Alex Slitka jumped in and said having people inside the executive team working together was a factor in keeping it in house.

The Individual Artist Relief Grant is providing $5,000 grants to 100 artists applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. Applications and decisions will are managed by the 49th State Angel Fund, while Cook Inlet Lending Center is cutting the checks, according to Baca.

The grant “supports practicing individual artists who have experienced economic hardship and loss of income from canceled events/sales, residences, workshops, gallery shows, terminated contracts, or job loss due to the pandemic and related emergency orders.”  The application for the city-awarded grants asked applicants to state their race, but it’s unclear if the artist awards were handed out on a quota system.

Assembly member and mayoral candidate Forrest Dunbar suggested that in addition to the race quota on the Building Equity fund, the city also provide free housing for entrepreneurs and he recommended the venture fund work with The Boardroom, a privately owned cowering space, to make that a reality.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Disgusting! Recall Forest Dunbar and the rest of the scumbag Assembly members that are on board with this BS. Kick them out of office and out of Alaska and send them a one-way ticket back to California where they can continue their domestic terrorism.

  • To know who rules your society find out who can not be criticized, to know who is being oppressed find out who you can not support.

  • This is absolutely insane. Maybe us citizens should stop paying our taxes so these morons stop robbing us of our money for BS like this. Other than Jamie the entire Assembly should be recalled not just Felix.

  • If you ever ask me what my race is, my answer will always be “human.”

  • I wonder if some of these “people in charge” realize that they are the ones spreading racism. Making one group of people more important than others causes hate and discontent, especially when gifting one group from what should be equally distributed.

  • Ah, the Assembly in action once again.
    Using tax money to pick and choose businesses to support. Based on the Assembly’s personal biases.

    Happy Anchorage? You voted for this.

    • Anchorage is lucky to get 30% of registered voters to actually vote in April elections (on average). And of those 30%, some of the assembly people only won by 16%. Anchorage didn’t vote for this; a small percentage of people did.
      .
      Maybe Anchorage would get more voters involved if 1) the election wasn’t in April but instead in November like federal election, and/or 2) have better people to choose from instead of the same tired Ds or Rs over and over. There’s a lot of apathy from Anchorage voters. How about someone who is more concerned about the people instead of power and has new ideas and plans? I wouldn’t even bother voting at all if it wasn’t for the yearly bonds, and that, too, seems like a waste of time because they always manage to pass anyway.

      • Since Anchorage’s Assembly forced its easily corruptible mail-in vote scheme on residents, Anchorage has been lucky to get any percentage of registered voters to vote.
        .
        We believe the scheme was forced on voters to assure no tax, bond, or incumbent gets left behind.
        .
        Thus far it seems to work well, not least because nobody knows how to get rid of it.

  • Democrats hard at work:
    Fomenting racism.
    The Democrat’s lifework.

    • The instigator of communism is class warfare. They are commies and need to be driven out.

  • This is by definition racism, pure and simple. As well as socially and politically divisive.
    .
    And that is, of course, why the leftist municipal assembly embraces it.
    .
    (Most of) our municipal assembly are inherently racists, in addition to being criminals and traitors.

  • Can a non minority business owner “identify” as BIPOC and get the perks?

  • “Will continue to perpetuate”.

    Felix Rivera is an idiot and there are several others in his aura. Up to this point I’ve always been ambivalent about voting but this time… I’m so looking forward to the next opportunity..

    • “I’ve always been ambivalent about voting …”. And that is why they are there. Liberty demands eternal vigilance and ambivalence is not a luxury a society can afford, or you’ll end up with morons like this.

  • Wouldn’t “equity” mean treating all people the same, regardless of skin color?
    .
    I guess our municipal assembly would consider Martin Luther King to be a racist now, seeing as his goal was a color-blind society.

  • Aside from the obviously racist and discriminatory notions, just what is meant by “investment” here? Does the City get anything in return for its investment? Or is this just another grant boondoggle? If they are grants, I suggest this is just another way to keep minorities enslaved on the plantation, commies in power, and a sure-fire way to promote deeper division. Bad idea asssembly. Jamie Allard, you have my deepest sympathy and respect. I’m all for help in starting businesses, applied without racial overtone – but there must be some return on investment – just like there would be for private investors. BTW Rivera, “systemic racism” is a myth – it hasn’t existed in many generations now. We all know racism is wrong – let’s stop teaching it to our kids. This kind of stuff perpetuates racism and demeans everyone involved.

    • Anchorage needs to take a liberal shit and flush.

  • This is an insult to me and others that scraped and saved to open our busisness . This city has closed lots of my customers busisness. This has severely impacted my busisness. I took an hourly job to get by. I have close to fifty thousand dollars of equiptment sitting basically unused. Thankfully I have no debt . 58 and no high school.diploma formally homeless alcoholic drug addict. Pulled myself out of the mess I got into.

    • Ahwhitty, you Sir in the words of Truman are, ” a credit to your race, the human race”

  • This violates the 14th Amendment, I’m pretty sure.

  • Time to check in with the OIG and Treasury Department. Cannot be color blind? We have been told for decades we are supposed to be a color blind society! Now we are back to quotas? Another misuse of CARES ACT monies!
    This Assembly has to go!

  • US Army Captain Forrest Dumbar for Mayor….and we will get more of the same on a much larger scale.
    Think before you vote

    • Ask Forrest about his actual military experience and tour of duty. Unless he decides to “shine you on” you will discover there is absotlely nothing there. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he used fund-raising proceeds to somehow purchase a promotion. He’s not big on merit. Under no circumstances should you vote for him in the mayoral election.

  • Systemic racism against light skin colors. Really been around for quite awhile but not this obvious. Sad part –most of these types don’t realize or understand what they are actually creating.
    Nonethless, we shall survive and the strong, regardless of skin color, will prevail.

    • Remember way back when, 15 – 20 minutes before the election when systemic racism was supposedly a Bad Thing? And we were supposed to tear down all society in order to root it out of every nook and cranny of our public, personal and economic lives? They even took to burning down parts of blue cities and looting businesses large and small in order to remove it. Yet the Anchorage Assembly, in their Divine Wisdom, choose to bring some more into public life. Who knew? Cheers –

  • Republicans mouthing off again. Majority of “Cares Act” going to non minority businesses – count on that. Let’s print that listing. Same lame party that approved tax havens for rich and rant bad government. BUT in times of need – like now – run to our government for protection and hands out. How to define than lunacy.

    • well, no body I know has run to the government asking for handouts. most of us would never qualify because we work for a living and pay our taxes, we simply wouldn’t qualify for government handouts.

    • I don’t recall the Republicans pushing for Delaware to be the number one tax haven for rich people. That was 100% pushed by Democrat Joe Biden in the Senate, and Delaware’s mostly Democrat state legislators. Seems to me that the issues you’re complaining about are a bipartisan issue. If you actually look up the voting records for every politician, there’s very little difference between the two parties when it comes to corporate welfare, tax havens for the rich, more wars, and more federal control. You know, the issues everything that most voters from both parties hate.
      .
      Instead of blaming one party and/or listening to the corporate media or the Jacobian, do your homework. The majority of the Republicans and Democrats have no issue voting the same the majority of the time. The bad mouthing from Pelosi and McConnell are really just theatrics to get more donations, nothing more.

  • How is this not racist?

  • That’s some impressive “walkin’ around money”. And you thought there wouldn’t be reparations.

  • Looks like another systemic racist program to be implemented on US tax payers. I wonder if I can opt out of paying my taxes, this is not equality under the law. They just need to stop asking what your race people are and make the decision based on the investment value of the business.

  • I’m so damn old that I remember when The U.S. Supreme Court “outlawed” racial discrimination in America.

    But that was America.

  • Astounding. Seems most of the assembly needs to go through de-programming as they are so entrenched in the cult of racial Gnosticism. Even if any of this was reality, which it is not, how are they to determine ‘people of color’, ‘ethnicity’, indigenous? Will we now carry around ‘racial purity’ id’s as in Nazi, Germany? And what denotes ‘color’? At what level of pigmentation is one deemed the correct skin tone? This is all so stupid. Add to that Rivera’s insistence that we must NOT be color blind…! Huh?! Yes, Mr. Rivera, let’s just promote anything we can to create division. We are all humans. We are all of the human race and we come in so many shades and shapes and sizes that we NEED to perpetuate color blindness, not discourage it. Completely backward and zero common sense, but alas, perhaps it is intended, as division is a means to their end – power and control.

  • Well, it seems that Alaska has finally caught up with the rest of the lesser 48, what a damn shame too.

  • “Anchorage’s city-owned start-up fund now dedicated to minority businesses”

    Is this a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

    Civil Rights Act, (1964), comprehensive U.S. legislation intended to end discrimination based on race, colour, religion, or national origin.
    Britannica

  • Anyone, with experience raising children, knows if you want to help someone get ahead you must merely throw money at them. A sure-fire plan for success.

  • Might be worth asking the Treasury’s Inspector General to review the process for civil rights violations or inappropriate use of federal money.
    .
    Send a courtesy copy to Senator Sullivan’s office, ask for follow up to assure the request is answered.

  • I’m confused…are the races inherently different or are we all the same? If we are inherently different, what are the differences, and if we are the same why would our government not treat us accordingly?

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