CINCINNATI - A business program that resulted from the 2001 unrest is now helping minority businesses grow and is also serving as a model for cities across the country.
The lack of opportunities for minority owned businesses came to the forefront 10 years ago along with the need to bring a long term solution to the problem.
In 1990, Janet Reid started her own consulting firm with nothing more than a computer and a laptop.
"Our company began in the basement of my home many years back," said Reid of Sharonville.
While Reid was working hard to grow her business, the 2001 unrest captured headlines.
Reid didn't know it at the time but her business would take an unexpected turn as a result.
A few days after the unrest took place, organizers with Cincinnati Action Now called on CEOs of major corporations for an emergency meeting at the Queen City Club.
They collaborated on long term solutions which resulted in the Minority Business Accelerator Program.
The program also referred to as the MBA launched in 2004 through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
"For the MBA, you have to be what we consider sizable and for sizable that means $1 million in revenue," said Crystal German with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
Over the last seven years, the chamber has helped 36 minority companies grow.
Those firms employ about 2,500 people and of that about 40 percent are minorities and women.
"We support these minority firms from everything by providing them with management consulting, helping them with strategic planning, their business planning as well as identifying business opportunities in the local market," said German.
For Reid, the help from the MBA program allowed her to merge her business with another company creating Global Novations, a talent management firm now operating in 32 countries.
"We've quadrupled our size at least," said Reid. "Our bottom line returns have more than quadrupled you know because we are much more efficient than we were and so forth."
But not all minority businesses have had the same fortune.
Last year the NAACP and Baptist Ministers Conference protested outside Cincinnati Public Schools saying the district excluded African American contractors.
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The district is now working to turn that around.
For minority businesses that are apart of the Chamber's initiative, the results have been clear.
"From when we started back in 2004, our employment has almost doubled through the portfolio to around 2,500," said German. "The amount of income generated by these firms is topping over a half a billion dollars. We are talking about significant monies being pumped into the local economy."
As a result, they are improving economic inclusion one minority business at a time.
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