Wharton asks for money to help jump-start minority businesses

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton made a special appearance before the City Council on Tuesday to ask for more than three quarters of a million dollars to help jump-start local minority businesses.

Wharton needs the money in order to get the federal government to commit to a multi-million dollar grant. But first, he needs help from the Memphis City Council.

"To make more capital, money, available for our locally owned small, minority-owned, women business enterprises," he said.

If the Council approves Wharton's request, the Economic Development Agency will send Memphis several million dollars as part of its federal Jump Start Program.

"The matter that was presented to the Council this morning is seeking $850,000 in local funds which would bring $3.25 million for locally owned businesses this year," he said.

The combined funds would give local start-ups grants and revolving loans to fill financial gaps.

"We find in so many instances, someone will show up, a minority business will say, 'I need this contract,' and they want to go to the bank to get the loan. They need $100,000. The bank will say you're good for $50,000," Wharton said.

The request came at a sensitive time for the city. Tuesday night, the City Council has its final vote on a 4.6 percent wage cut for city employees.

"It will not come from any money out of employees pockets," Wharton said. "We're working on that. We're working on trying to find funds to restore that."

Council members said they will take time to research the mayor's Jump Start proposal and vote on it at a later meeting.

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