The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber plans to expand its Minority Business Accelerator program to include Hispanic firms, it said Monday.
The program has been targeted to help African American-owned businesses since its inception in 2004. But recent lobbying by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati prompted an examination of the program and of the overall minority business community in the region.
"The study reaffirms our approach, but also suggests that now is the time to increase the level and scope of our work," said Ellen van der Horst, president of the regional chamber.
Over the next three years, the regional chamber said the number of businesses in the program will increase from 32 to 50. It will also work to find at least 10 more companies that pledge to spend on regional minority-owned suppliers.
The chamber will also invite business-to-government firms to participate in the program, which it says may increase the level of minority participation in public cotracts.
The study was conducted by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking and La Verdad Marketing. The chamber said it found that, despite considerable improvement in the growth of minority businesses, significant disparities still exist with majority-owned businesses.
The study reviewed total annual sales of privately-held companies (with employees) in the 15-county region and concluded that, of the $195 billion of total annual sales, minority sales are only about a half percent ($1 billion) of the total. The study also found that disparities are most significant in the African-American and Hispanic populations.
The accelerator program has two parts: a portfolio of firms (currently 32) for which the Chamber program acts as a business growth consultant, and a spending goal, in which larger corporations agree to buy a certain dollar amount of goods and services from any minority-owned business in the region.