‘Pathways’ Initiative To Boost Minority-Owned Businesses

By Kaitlin Schroeder Dayton Daily News, Ohio

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new initiative to help minority-owned businesses in the Dayton area is launching with the help of a $100,000 grant.

Dayton Daily News, Ohio

The new initative called Pathways will help with workforce development and small business development.

Belinda Stenson, director for the Minority Business Partnership for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said Pathways creates a formal partnership between the chamber, Dayton Minority Business Assistance Center and Wesley Community Center.

"These three organizations are such important pieces of our community," said KeyBank Dayton Market President Joey Williams. "We are proud to be able to support their collaboration in a way that will help drive business growth and job creation."

The organizations have all worked together in the past, but the $100,000 grant from KeyBank will help them form a structured partnership to help minority-owned and women-owned businesses grow and attract the workers they need.

"This collaboration makes natural sense as part of our shared mission to build a strong community full of thriving minority and women-owned businesses and access to good jobs," said Stenson.

Stenson said the groups are still working on the specifics of how Pathways will operate, but are working with JumpStart Inc., which has an existing model of a program in the Cleveland area.

"We have a high level frame work and we're using a couple of projects that we've worked on as a model," Stenson said.

In one example, the groups worked with the Dayton Metro Library to help identify women and minority owned suppliers for its construction and renovation projects.

Often, once a construction project is completed, Stenson said these groups go their separate ways, but afterwards with the library, they continued to work together and identified two minority-owned businesses to fill janitorial contracts that have hired at least 20 people to serve those 14 branches.

She said the Minority Business Partnership has worked in small business development but has not had a workforce development program like it will with Pathways.

The Minority Business Partnership will lead the collaborative. Stenson said other organizations that will be involved will be the University of Dayton's Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, The Entrepreneurs Center, Small Business Development Centers and the Dayton Area Chamber's 29 Committed Buying Organizations, which are companies with large purchasing powers and diverse supplier chains.

Stenson said the Pathways program can help the businesses they work with have the support to take their business to the next level.

"The key is to identify those companies that have a high performance or a CEO who is committed to being a successful business owner but needs support and resources," Stenson said.

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