Unifying Regional Support of Minority Businesses
Greenville, S.C., continuously works toward economic vitality, and like many leading business organizations, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce advances this effort through economic inclusion, supporting the development of small, women-owned, minority-owned and startup businesses. An example of this work is the chamber's Minority Business Resource Collaborative (MBRC), which unifies 20 regional entities that provide assistance to underserved businesses.
The MBRC started in 2013 to focus organizations working in Upstate South Carolina to support under-represented or underserved businesses. The group works to limit duplication of effort, identify gaps in service among providers, increase provider accountability and create a network of support among organizations. MBRC also is developing unified tracking and reporting tools to establish measures that each provider can track consistently.
Aside from monthly meetings to discuss these issues, the MBRC has created a day-long event to bring together their constituents to network and learn. For the past two years, this event has been part of the Greenville Chamber's Local Small Business Week Celebration and the Minority Economic Development Institute's Minority Economic Development Week. In 2014, these concurrent celebrations took place Sept. 15-19.
This year's MBRC event attracted 250 attendees and included two 90-minute workshops on marketing communications and finance, intended for more established businesses. A three-hour seminar designed for business startups featured speakers from Piedmont SCORE and the South Carolina SBDC. Workshop content was informed by a pre-event constituent survey.
Following the workshops, attendees grouped by topic for a moderated networking lunch. Table facilitators included panelists from the morning's workshops and representatives from the collaborative, allowing participants to interact one-on-one with experts and learn from their peers.
Capping off the event was the Business Information Fair. Small business owners wear many hats, and often don't have the time for research and connecting with organizations they could benefit from. The fair makes MBRC programs easily accessible in one place. Attendees also received a matrix of service providers before the event, so they can make sure to meet with the organizations that serve their business type and specific needs.
According to Nika White, vice president of the Greenville Chamber's Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, the event was a great success. Attendance increased by almost 50 individuals over last year and the number of service providers on site also grew. Initial survey results indicate that participants were pleased with the event and many have already initiated follow-ups with service providers.
The benefit is not only for attendees. MBRC's providers can expand their databases with all of the business owners they can connect with at the event. Even the chamber has seen an increase in minority-owned businesses joining as a result of this initiative. As White notes, the chamber's main goal is to improve inclusion and elevate the economic performance of the Upstate area, so new members are just an added bonus.
Click here to learn more about Greenville's Minority Business Resource Collaborative.
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Click the links to explore a selection of valuable resources available on ACCE.org
Women in Chambers
Chambers of commerce recognize the leadership roles of women in business. There are strong programs at chambers to promote local women-owned businesses. These programs create an environment for business women to connect and build relationships focused on professional development and growth.
Did you miss out our 2014 convention in Cincinnati? Are you looking to relive the experience? No problem! Presentations and handout materials from many of our sessions are now available on ACCE.org.
Diversity in Charlotte Report
This 2013 report highlights diversity and inclusion success in Charlotte by spotlighting D&I practices at companies of all sizes.
Diversity & Inclusion Council Roster
Connect with your peers doing valuable diversity and inclusion work in chambers across the country.
We are looking for more information on Diversity & Inclusion member surveys. If your organization is currently using a survey, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact Hannah Nequist with your samples.
Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m. ET for the bimonthly conference call of ACCE's Diversity & Inclusion Division. Here's what you need to participate:
Dial: (857) 232-0156
Join your peers for this best practice-sharing roundtable conference call!
This is an open participation roundtable conference call, not a seminar. Come prepared to share your thoughts and experiences, and build your professional network!
A topic for the call has not yet been identified. Contact Hannah Nequist if you have an issue that you would like to bring to the group for discussion.