A Message from President & CEO, Christy Gillenwater: Small Business Success Through Certification

According to a Stanford University research project, the State of Latino Entrepreneurship 2015 report revealed that between 2007 and 2012, the number of Latino owned businesses grew by 46.9 percent compared to just 0.7 percent for non-Latino owned businesses. This extraordinary level of entrepreneurship suggests Latinos play a substantial role in local job creation and economic development. In fact, A closer look at the growth in the number of small businesses between 2007 and 2012 reveals that 86 percent of the growth in all small businesses during this time can be attributed to Latino owned businesses.

To help support this small business growth, minority owned businesses can become certified, meaning they can be officially recognized as a minority owned business at the state or federal level. Certification can significantly help a business gain access to government contracts. Corporations, the federal government, and state agencies all want to do business with minority-owned companies.

According to the Indiana Department of Administration, Southwest Indiana has one of the lowest certification rates of minority businesses in the state, suggesting a need and opportunity to help support minority certification and minority small business advising services in Southwest Indiana. This led our teams at the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), the Diverse Business Alliance, the Latino Chamber Alliance, and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to form a pilot program focused on diverse entrepreneurs who need assistance with starting or growing their business and who could benefit from certification.

For those qualified candidates, the pilot program offers a scholarship that includes paying $250 of their Chamber membership dues for the first year, one-on-one business advising with a Southwest ISBDC advisor, meetings with the Southwest PTAC (help clients sell products/services to government), translated resource materials, attendance at a “Launching Your Own Business” class at no cost, and free admission to two ISBDC, Latino Chamber, or Family Business Alliance events.

The program was rolled out in May, and through August 1st, has held three events with more than 50 attendees, awarded 6 scholarships, and retained 6 clients who are actively working on certification. To learn more about the certification program contact Karina Hampton at 812.425.7232.

We are thrilled with the positive feedback and program participation we have received so far, and we continue to look for new ways to boost small business in Southwest Indiana! Together we thrive!