African American Chamber's Sudduth Society aims to grow more million-dollar minority-owned companies

Goal is to create companies of scale, new jobs

CINCINNATI – Over the past seven years, Sherri Richardson has grown her Kenwood-based accounting firm to 10 full-time employees.

Richardson knows the business could be a lot bigger, but there are roadblocks in her way.

One is the time it takes to network and find new business opportunities. Another is getting in front of decision-makers. And a big one is the perception that the firm is too small to handle large clients.

"That is not true," she said. "We're on solid ground, and we have strong reach."

Richardson said she's confident her firm can double its annual revenues and get to $1 million or more in the next two to three years.

A new program at the African American Chamber could be just what she needs to do it.

The chamber wants to see more million-dollar minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and the organization is launching the Sudduth Society for Minority Businesses to help make that happen.

The program aims to help minority-owned companies with revenues between about $250,000 and $500,000 per year because those companies have the highest potential to become million-dollar firms in 24 to 36 months, said Sean Rugless, the chamber's president and CEO.

It is named after Horace Sudduth, a native of Covington who worked as a Pullman railroad car porter before he made his fortune in real estate and banking. He was a leading African-American businessman before his death in 1957 at the age of 68.

"If you take a company that has $250,000 in revenue today, on average it has two employees. If you grow it to $1 million, it will typically expand to have nine or more employees," he said.  "The whole focus is to create more minority businesses of scale."

Insiders can read more about how the program will work and how it will relate to the Minority Business Accelerator housed at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

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