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Cincy Co-op Business Legacy Fund aims to increase the number of minority-owned businesses in the city

Lennise Germany, Omar Germany minority owned business
Posted at 2:17 PM, Aug 22, 2021

CINCINNATI — A census survey conducted in 2019 showed only about 18% of all US businesses are owned by minorities. A coalition of local business groups is trying to increase that number in the area by making business ownership more accessible to all.

Brandon Hoff built his business from the ground up – literally. He started Heritage Hill, LLC in his basement. His company primarily makes apparel for historically black colleges and universities.

“It’s now, how do we go from a smaller company to a more mature company,” he said. “And in doing that, it’s figuring out how to increase cash flow.”

Insurance agent Leo Ford is looking to start his own business – a hip-hop LGBTQ club in Cincinnati.

“There aren’t any in Ohio at all,” he said. “There are very few in the Midwest. Initially, I’m like, there’s no way to – how am I going to fund this? That’s number one.”

Starting or expanding a business sometimes comes with major roadblocks – which is where the Business Legacy Fund comes in.

“It’s all about how we can create intergenerational wealth within our community through business ownership,” Ellen Very, Co-op Cincy director of development & co-op organizing said.

The fund selected five minority entrepreneurs this summer as part of a new cohort. A coalition of business partners will guide the business people through buying their own enterprise or expanding one they already own. The fund will help pay for it, too.

“Historically in our country, we have this huge inequality gap and income and wealth gap,” Vera said. “So, if we can increase the number of folks in our community that have ownership, we’re going to increase the benefits.”

As more US adults retire, Vera said, having these acquisition plans could save businesses, too, which would also save jobs.

“In two years, we want to be in a bigger space,” Hoff said. “We want to be able to have a bigger team. We want to be able to have a larger impact.”

The fund is looking for businesses that are interested in selling – either to one of their employees or one of the entrepreneurs selected by the fund. There is currently a multi-million-dollar loan ready to make those transactions happen.

Applications open September 15. For more information, visit Co-op Cincy’s website.