Push aims at business opportunity for minority members, women

Business and community leaders are forming a public-private initiative with the City of Little Rock to bolster internal diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across the city.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced the program Wednesday and called on leadership across the community to dedicate more effort to create opportunities for minorities.

The program, called OpportUNITY, intends to expand access to business opportunities and increase competitiveness in Little Rock by supporting minority and women-owned businesses. Executives from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock joined the mayor in the announcement.

The unity initiative also was crafted to help bolster recruitment networks and enhance retention and development of a diverse workforce.

Dionne Jackson was appointed Little Rock’s chief equity officer six months ago and is spearheading the city’s effort.

“I cannot emphasize enough the significance of our businesses leading the way by participating in this

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UC Berkeley poll finds minority business owners most negatively impacted by pandemic in California

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A recent Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found minority small business owners were significantly more negatively impacted by the pandemic compared to their counterparts.

The pandemic has tested business owner Regina Harris who was vending patchwork jackets prior to COVID.

“We traveled as far as to Atlanta selling our patchwork jackets and after the pandemic hit our vending opportunities were zero,” said Harris.

No festivals, no business. She could have thrown in the towel but that’s not her way.

“I’m not a quitter,” said Harris.

RELATED: Bay Area minority-owned businesses struggle to get PPP funding, data shows

Instead she pivoted, creating her own patch business called Prideful Patchez.

“I wanted to have a line of patches that spoke to the African American experience,” said Harris.

Harris isn’t alone. According to a recent Berkeley Institute of Government Studies or IGS poll of small business owners,

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Minority firms get a leg up

South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado recently began exploring ideas to expand its outreach to minority businesses and entrepreneurs in the region.

Efforts are focused on providing the technical expertise and financial backing that entrepreneurs require to survive and thrive, especially in the early stages of business development. School officials have turned to Forge Community Loan Fund of Huntsville to help craft a successful program.

“Southark is in the business of helping people start businesses, launch businesses and explore entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Bentley Wallace, president of the college.

“The opportunity to work with a group like Forge could be the difference-maker in south Arkansas to launch viable businesses that add to the regional economy,” Wallace said. “The support Forge provides is not currently available in south-central Arkansas.”

Over the past five years, Forge has become a key partner for organizations like Southark that want to support and develop start-up

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National Minority Supplier Development Council and Cargill launch Centers of Excellence Certificate Program for Minority-Owned Businesses

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NEW YORK, NY, Sept. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Championing minority and women-owned businesses by helping them succeed is a critical step in creating equitable opportunities. When these businesses reach their full potential and compete globally, our supply chains and communities are stronger. That’s why Cargill, in collaboration with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), is launching the Centers of Excellence Certificate Program (COECP), a first-of-its-kind program, to strengthen diverse supplier selection in corporations and help minority businesses compete in a global environment.  

The first cohort of the nine-month program is made up of select NMSDC-certified Class II Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), with annual sales between $1 million and $10 million and a minimum of five employees. The program will: 

  • Support the growth of MBEs by sharing business skills and 
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