Memphis Will Get MBDA Center -- $1M Federal Grant Will Support Minority Business Development

By Dowd, James | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), April 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

Memphis Will Get MBDA Center -- $1M Federal Grant Will Support Minority Business Development


Dowd, James, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


The Memphis-based Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish a Minority Business Development Agency center here, the first in Tennessee.

In making the decision, federal officials praised the Memphis business incubator's operational model, said Rep. Steve Cohen, D- Tenn., and lawmakers hope other MBDA centers will follow suit.

Memphis joins 35 other cities across the country in landing an MBDA center, which focuses on assisting minority entrepreneurs grow their businesses and gain access to capital.

Funding for the program will be distributed in $250,000 increments over the next four years, and is renewable. The money will be used to pay for two staffers, as well as training programs and operational costs.

"We've been working on this for three years, but I'm glad to see it finally happening," Cohen said Monday while announcing the program at the MMBCC headquarters. "The Department of Commerce officials told us what a great job the Mid-South Minority Council Continuum is doing to help small businesses become scalable, and that this is the best business model they've seen."

The MBDA will be housed Downtown at the MMBCC's small-business incubator at 158 Madison. An executive director and administrative assistant will be in place within the next couple weeks, and the center will be open by mid-June.

In August, the MMBCC will host a national training conference for about 200 workers from the other MBDA centers across the country.

"This center will help us continue to scale minority businesses up and create jobs while also putting our organization on a national scale," said Luke Yancy III, president and CEO of the MMBCC. "It will also help us connect minority businesses in Memphis with opportunities outside Memphis."

Although the MMBCC works with small businesses owned by minorities and women, the function of the MBDA center will be more limited, Yancy said. …

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