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One Houston Together: Accelerating Minority Business Growth

Published Jul 21, 2023 by Brina Morales

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Minority Business Enterprises are vital to local and national economies. In the Houston region, certified minority businesses support more than 70,000 jobs and generated $14 billion in economic activity in 2020. 

In May during the Partnership’s One Houston Together Supplier Diversity Roundtable, Darrin Redus, CEO of Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator, highlighted the accelerator’s success and innovative practices that are delivering significant results for minority business enterprises (MBEs). Increasing spending with MBEs is one of two priorities of One Houston Together alongside talent advancement and increasing racial diversity on boards.  

The Cincinnati business accelerator was founded in 2003 to address the racial disparities in business ownership in the Cincinnati region, drive economic activity and increase employment in underemployed segments. The accelerator works primarily with mid-cap and large-cap corporations to create jobs in the region through their collective commitment to minority spend and to help the companies meet their supplier diversity and inclusion goals by connecting to minority-owned companies. To date, the accelerator has supported 70 companies with average annual revenues of $30 million. The program centers around four strategic pillars: Grow, Build, Attract and Create.

  • Grow existing portfolio firms to the next level.
  • Build emerging minority businesses under the $1 million threshold with high growth potential.
  • Attract large-scale MBEs to the region. The focus is more on expansion and identifying sizeable MBEs in specific industries that corporate partners can incentivize to expand to the Cincinnati region.
  • Create MBEs via the acquisition of existing, mainstream non-minority firms. For example, aging businesses with no succession plan.

The program isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, instead, it provides customized analysis, resources and funding to grow the MBE over time, never graduating them from the program, unlike other accelerator programs.

“Ultimately, everything that we do with these companies is rooted in the financial assessment because, without that, you’re somewhat flying blind,” Redus said.

Within three to five years, the MBEs are able to double their revenue due to how the program is structured, according to Redus. 

Another innovative practice the Cincinnati Minority Business Accelerator has launched is the MBA Fund 1, which provides access to equity and growth capital for Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs for scalable business ventures. Mainstream businesses lacking succession plans are the primary investment target followed by existing minority firms that require growth equity and emerging minority firms.

The Cincinnati model provides a proven roadmap to scale high-growth minority businesses and is instructive for companies and economic development organizations.

 To learn more about the Partnership’s supplier diversity efforts, members should join our roundtable and participate in the upcoming Supplier Diversity Innovation Lab on August 24, 2023. Contact Damean Townsend, Senior Director, Supplier Diversity, for more information.

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