DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – Wesley Rainer is getting ready to open his hot dog stand, Hot Diggity Dogz, on what should be a busy Friday night.
He said starting his business, though, has been a long road. Rainer said he founded his business through his 401k and, when he was let go of his job, he had two plans.
“The plan was to go to school to be a welder and figure out what type of business can I start that was $10,000 or lower.”
While doing his research he stumbled upon hot dogs.
“Hotdogs is universal,” he said. “The only thing that is more American than hotdogs is apple pie.”
During that journey he has learned that being a minority business owner comes with its own set of challenges. One of those being communication.
“One of the struggles that I faced was initially get started on getting the proper information, so I had to go to like two, three different people to find out what are these requirements, what is this, to get that accurate information,” he mentioned.
According to Jill Connors, the city of Dubuque’s economic development director, that is one of the problems Dubuque city leaders are now trying to address.
“In Dubuque we want to be an equitable city of choice so that people want to live here and they know that they can make a good living for their family, so if I am a person of color and I am living here and I know that I make less than everybody else why would I want to stay?,” she asked. “Well, if I can make my own business I have more agency over my income and I can improve my life and the life of my family, so we want to encourage all of our potential business owners to be successful and try to line them up with the resources that are already here and new resources that we might be able to attract.”
Connors has started meeting with minority business owners.
She said other struggles that come up are technical assistance, focused more on marketing and accounting, and financial help.
Now they are lining them up with resource providers who can help them out.
“And then we listened to the business owners so that we could start to process,” she said. “If we know what your struggle is now we can start to focus on we need to be able to provide this that they just told us versus providing what we think business owners need.”
Rainer said now is the time for people of color to start their business ventures.
“Right now is a perfect time because the world is listening,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to create a network so that people can have somebody that looks like them and that can relate to them to help them achieve their goals.”
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