A well-attended public hearing in the D.C. Council sent a clear message to lawmakers: Small and minority-owned businesses need help staying afloat.

Dozens of witnesses testified before members of the Business and Economic Development committee Wednesday on a trio of bills introduced by committee chairman Kenyan McDuffie, the Ward 5 councilmember, and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen that would offer financial assistance to small and “legacy” businesses facing high rents and intense competition from national retailers.

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