By Johania Charles, Miami Times
Formula One’s partnership with Miami Gardens to bring the international auto racing sport to the city over the next 10 years has led to a $500,000 commitment to support small businesses in the area.
Last week, F1 announced that it will partner with the Community Fund of North Miami Dade (CFNMD), a subsidiary of the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC), to distribute loans for businesses located in Miami Gardens and business owners who are residents of the city.
In support of the program, the Truist Foundation will add an additional $100,000 to the pot, while the OLCDC will match F1’s commitment with an additional $500,000, meaning more than $1 million will be up for grabs for the local business community.
“I am absolutely convinced that if we spend this $500,000 from Formula One by the end of this year, we’ll see probably another $500,000 from them in January,” said Willie Logan, president and CEO of the OLCDC. “They’re giving us a chance and allowing us to demonstrate that the community is not only ready to embrace this [and] take advantage of it, but also will succeed in doing it.”
The partnership was months in the making, according to Logan. After a rigorous vetting process that included at least five organizations, CFNMD was finally selected by the F1 team for the small-business loan program.
Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris said he was pleased F1 remains committed in investing in his city.
“This will help them to be more prosperous,” Harris told The Miami Times about local businesses able to take advantage of the partnership. “The pandemic has brought us to a point where people are in need of money, and small businesses here in Miami Gardens are in need of those funds as well. So this is another avenue that we put in place so that small businesses can have an opportunity to prosper.”
Last year, many residents fought back against hosting the Miami Grand Prix in their backyard, citing noise pollution and health risks as major concerns. The Miami Gardens City Council had also voiced its opposition in a unanimous vote against F1 in 2020 but that vote was overruled by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, as previously reported in The Miami Times.
A $5 million community benefits package promised by F1 organizers helped seal the deal, bringing the first of many championship races to Miami Gardens.
Nearly three months after the big sporting event, the city's leaders want to see small-business owners get a piece of the pie.
“We said at the time of securing this race that we wanted to ensure that we left a positive, lasting impact on this community,” said Courtnee Chun, chief portfolio officer for the company that acquired F1, at a press conference last Thursday. “And this is an important step.”
Harris, surrounded by council members Robert Stephens III, Katrina Wilson and Shannon Campbell at the press conference, shared his gratitude for having this initiative help jumpstart the local economy.
Logan estimates that 20-25 businesses will be supported by the $500,000. So far, three loans have already been approved for some of that funding.
“Our hope is to do this within one year,” he said. “But I am confident we’ll do it sooner.”
The local business community welcomes the opportunity.
“I think that this will be the resuscitation of dreams for a lot of people,” said Sherronda Daye, owner of Defense Tea and Sweet Jalane’s.
Daye, who had to pivot from a salaried government job to baking professionally after losing
her job, said she knows firsthand how important it is to have loan opportunities available to Black-owned small businesses.
As a former recipient of a CFNMD loan, she was able to purchase commercial ovens, stand mixers and uniforms, and hire staff to work out of a shared kitchen space. Now, after getting a boost, she’s planning to open her first brick-and-mortar shop.
“Those funds allowed us to dress the part, be the part and bake the part, and it’s been great,” she said, sharing the excitement that CFNMD will receive more funding to continue supporting businesses like hers through loan opportunities.
F1 will be assessing how long it takes for those dollars to be distributed via loans before deciding on whether the commitment will be renewed for additional loan funding.
“As far as the city is concerned, we will be putting something together to assist our residents,” said Harris when asked about additional benefits from the partnership outside of the business loan program. “And that’ll come in the near future.”