Climate Change, Extreme Temps Affect NC Black-Owned Small Businesses
Monday, July 18, 2022
A new Pew Research poll finds Americans are split on how to tackle climate change. In North Carolina, small Black-owned businesses say they're struggling with how to cope with extreme weather events, and they need help and resources - fast.
As Executive Director of the North Carolina Business Council, Vicki Lee Parker-High said she's seen more small businesses forced to close or temporarily suspend operations as a result of flooding, extreme heat, blackouts or severe storms.
She said losses and damages can cost owners tens of thousands of dollars.
"One in five North Carolina businesses - so, small businesses - have either laid off employees due to extreme weather events," said Parker-High. "So, that's about 21% of our companies that have been affected that way."
Parker-High said more research is needed to help these business owners better estimate financial risks and hedge their bets as seasons become increasingly unpredictable.
Jessica Rice Hawkins owns AIMHigh, a personal training gym in Henderson. She said extreme temperatures have strained her budget, and adds it's been a challenge to keep her building at a temperature comfortable for workouts during both winter and summer.
"So, I have these extremely high utility bills," said Rice Hawkins. "And now, you're faced with this choice of 'I cannot raise my prices because of where I am' - that's going to run me out of business. And then, I have to pay for the extremely high cost of utilities to operate the business."
According to Parker-High, abnormal weather patterns are increasingly affecting how small companies operate, and have triggered job cuts nationwide.
"So, a lot of these cuts are happening and occurring right in plain sight," said Parker-High. "But they're not being adequately accounted for, and adjusted for the risk that our businesses are being exposed to."
Seventy-one percent of Americans now say their community has experienced some form of extreme weather in past year - from flooding to lengthy heat waves, wildfires, droughts and water shortages, or rising seas that have eroded shorelines, according to the Pew survey.
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