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New business program aims to accelerate the growth of minority-owned businesses

Carolina Panorama



Small business owners in the Midlands will have an opportunity to accelerate the growth of their companies thanks to a new program launched by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.


The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Chambers based in Charleston and Greenville to launch a statewide Minority Business Accelerator program.

Bank of America has provided a $500,000 grant to seed this program. It is set to launch in January of 2022.


The Minority Business Accelerator supports and scales high-potential minority-owned firms by providing targeted training, access to business coaches, and access to large corporations. Participants leave the program with a three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan to guide their development. The $500,000 grant from Bank of America to fund this program expansion is part of the bank's $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local communities.


"Together with the Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville Chamber organizations, we are working to do our part to support minority-owned businesses, and we hope to encourage others as well," said Kim Wilkerson, president, Bank of America South Carolina. "Here in South Carolina, Bank of America remains focused on creating opportunity in the areas of jobs, training, and workforce development as these areas are where systemic, long-term gaps have existed and where significant change is required to achieve sustainable progress."


The Minority Business Accelerator has existed in the Upstate through the Greenville Chamber since 2012 and has been tremendously successful. The program will now be replicated in the Midlands and Lowcountry markets. The program in each region will be led by the respective Chamber and a program instructor following the internationally-recognized Interise StreetWise 'MBA' curriculum. Participants undergo intensive training for the first six months, then work closely with mentors, coaches and MBA peers on their Strategic Growth Action Plans and implementation of learnings for the last six months.

Upon leaving the program, these firms are positioned for accelerated growth with enhanced access to capital and business networks. Nationwide, after completing the StreetWise 'MBA' program, businesses experience 36% growth rate in revenue, create jobs four times faster than the private sector, and see $2.4 million in new contracts per firm. These businesses also help meet increasing demand among large corporations to improve vendor and supplier diversity.


Expanding the program statewide will create a more prosperous South Carolina through inclusive economic development and job creation. The three chambers working together, supported by Bank of America, provide a foundation of success for South Carolina's minority business enterprises.


The program is open to socially or economically underrepresented businesses including those that are minority-owned, woman-owned or veteran-owned. Participants must have at least one other full-time employee and must also be headquartered in South Carolina.

Companies in the Midlands interested in applying for the program are encouraged to participate in a virtual information session on Monday, December 3, 2021. The information session, which will be held from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., is free and open to all. To register, visit ColumbiaChamber.com.


The deadline to apply is December 10, 2021. For more information, contact Sandra Metzdorf, Director, Small & Minority Business Strategy at smetzdorf@columbiachamber.com or Meg Senn, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at msenn@ColumbiaChamber.com.


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