To ensure the region’s small and medium businesses have the support needed to grow, the Quad Cities Chamber is enhancing its partnerships with fellow business service providers and devoting resources to expand assistance for minority entrepreneurs. Key partners that provide a variety of services for clients include:
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) and Western Illinois University – Quad Cities (WIU-QC)
- SCORE Quad Cities
- Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers – Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) at Iowa State University and Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)
“We evaluated how to best provide additional services, and we thought it would be most productive to partner with existing experts to enhance and expand their services,” said Paul Rumler, Chamber president and CEO, in a news release. “We have a business and economic growth ecosystem in the region that works best when we all collaborate.”
A business that needs help is encouraged to start by contacting the chamber, which has the formal relationships and resources in place to help firms of all sizes and industries navigate the barriers or opportunities in front of them.
“This collaboration will allow us to provide quicker responses and manage the interplay at various junctures within the business growth process,” said Julie Forsythe, senior vice president, business & economic growth, at the chamber. “The chamber continues to provide project management, financial assistance options, resource connections and introductions to business opportunities and the broker community.”
Increased support for minority-owned businesses
As a result of the partnerships with the SBDCs, the chamber is devoting resources to expand assistance for minority-owned businesses with the goal of increasing their growth potential. Both the Illinois and Iowa SBDC offices are in the process of recruiting and hiring new staff to fulfill these services and address “longstanding unmet needs in our community,” Rumler said.
Although minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50% of the 2 million new businesses started in the U.S. over the last 10 years, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship reports there are disparities when it comes to access to capital, contacting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities. Furthermore, while minorities make up 32% of the U.S. population, they represent only 18% of business owners.
“As we look at providing equitable services for entrepreneurs and businesses, it’s clear there’s a gap in minority business ownership, and we want to make sure there are resources available to help them succeed,” Rumler said.
Entrepreneurs, Forsythe said, are both those with an idea just starting a business and those who have an established enterprise and are at any stage of the business lifecycle: development, startup, growth, expansion or maturity.
Staff dedicated to minority entrepreneurs
The Illinois SBDC at WIU-QC is in the process of interviewing candidates for its new advisor position. The office has employed Spanish-speaking graduate assistants to help Hispanic business owners in recent years, but this hire will be the center’s first official full-time employee dedicated to supporting minority entrepreneurs.
“This exciting collaboration illustrates a shared vision to connect our diverse community to the opportunities provided by the SBDC at WIU-QC in partnership with the Quad Cities Chamber,” said Kristi Mindrup, assistant vice president for academic affairs and interim administrator in charge at WIU-QC.
The SBDC at EICC seeks qualified candidates for its open Minority Business Coordinator position and has the capacity to hire more than one person, said Joel Youngs, SBDC regional director.
“Our minority business coordinator will be providing workshops as well as working hand-in-hand with business owners to enhance their profitability, access to capital and ability to create jobs that allow for a strong and vibrant community,” Youngs said.
In conjunction with the Iowa SBDC State Office, the SBDC at EICC also has the capability to offer all of its workshops in Spanish.
For more information about technical assistance, visit: https://quadcitieschamber.com/business-services/business-resources/technical-assistance