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'We’ve been able to pass the business down, create generational wealth': $2.3M in grants awarded to 48 small businesses in DC

Our Q and A team asked what the D.C. government is doing to help small businesses not only stay in the area but thrive.

WASHINGTON — We have good news for 48 small business owners in DC. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio awarded over $2.3 million to small businesses in the district. The grants were funded through the Great Streets project and allow small business owners to make capital improvements to their business as well as allocate money toward advertising.

Our Q and A team met up with the owners of Dudley Beauty school in Northeast. In 2018, they received the Great Streets grant in 2018 and are an example of how this grant money can help local small business owners in the district. 

"Being awarded the grant was just tremendous," Melanie Dudley-McClain, director of Dudley Beauty College told us. 

Dudley Beauty school was started 31 years ago by Joe Dudley Sr. and is now in the hands of many members of the Dudley family. 

"Our school’s been around since 1989," Melanie explained. "My parents purchased the school in 2000 from my uncle so it’s been in the family for a number of years."

The $50,000 grant awarded to them in 2018 by the D.C. Office of Planning and Economic Development has helped them bring the aesthetics of the school up to par with newer salons.

"It helped us in terms of renovating the building," Melanie shared. "As you can see we re-did our shampoo area and restrooms and floors."

Melanie says they’re also going to use the grant funding to increase advertising for the school.

Getting the grant was a tricky process for them. "The first time I tried to do the grant they told me we wouldn’t be able to because we were a school," Melanie recalled. "And the second time the people from Muriel Bowser’s committee came around to all of the businesses and talked to us about the grant and let us know: 'Hey, yes you can apply.''

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Melanie said the grant help with the morale of students and staff who spend countless days at the school.

"We have a 100 percent passing rate and I think that’s due to us uplifting the building, making it look nicer," she explained. "I think that also helped overall with having more customers come in, more students come in to take the program."

Dudley Beauty College is what someone might call a legacy business. It is a staple in the Northeast community.  I asked Mr. Dudley, Melanie's father, what he thought about receiving the grant. 

"Well, we’ve been able to pass the business down to another generation and that’s very important in my mind, and create what we call generational wealth," he told us proudly.

That is the key here. 

On The Q and A, we've had so many conversations with small business owners in DC, especially black small business owners. Creating generational wealth is why many became entrepreneurs in the first place. 

Unfortunately, because of gentrification and increasing cost of business for small business owners in the district, the Dudley family’s success story is unfortunately the minority. 

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