Tracey Edwards, a consultant and Long Island Regional Director of the...

Tracey Edwards, a consultant and Long Island Regional Director of the NAACP. Credit: Chris Ware

Boosting the sales of small businesses on Long Island, particularly those owned by members of minority groups, is the goal of a $42,500 grant to be used by three business organizations, officials said.

The Long Island Community Foundation, a Melville-based nonprofit, awarded the grant to the Long Island Association. The money will be used to draft a plan for spurring the growth of businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

The LIA, working with the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce and the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will collect information from the business community in Nassau and Suffolk counties about the needs of entrepreneurs, the officials said.

The LIA also has hired Tracey Edwards, a partner in the consulting firm Strategic Pathways Group in Commack, to work on the project. The firm specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Edwards, who will be paid with grant funds, is regional director of the NAACP and a retired Verizon executive.

The community foundation’s Sol-Marie Alfonso Jones said the project will “instigate community development and wealth generation in diverse communities.”

The project is an outgrowth of the LIA’s small business assistance program and its partnership with the two chambers, said LIA CEO Matt Cohen, adding the economy will continue to grow "if we can ensure that all small businesses are fully participating.”

Phil Andrews, president of the African American chamber, and Luis Vazquez, president of the Hispanic chamber, agreed.

“Hispanic small businesses have faced significant challenges during the pandemic and are still struggling with economic uncertainty related to inflation, hiring, supply-chain issues and other factors,” Vazquez said.

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