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$900,000 Grant Going To Minority Business Enterprises In St. Louis Region

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)
Minority Business Development Agency national director David Hinson.

The Department of Commerce is giving nearly $1 million to promote minority business enterprises, or MBEs, in the St. Louis region.

The $900,000 grant announced Tuesday will establish a business center to provide minority entrepreneurs and business owners with contract and financing opportunities, bonding services and executive training.

The center is based on a new partnership among the St. Louis Minority Business Council, the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council and the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The Chicago organization will operate the center out of the St. Louis Minority Business Council’s office downtown.

Mayor Francis Slay says the initiative will increase financing and contract opportunities for minority business enterprises and help foster ties with major corporations.

“The grant aims to generate $75 million in MBE transactions in the first year, $100 million in the second year and $120 million in the third year,” Slay said.

MBDA National Director David Hinson says access to capital is generally the biggest impediment to growth for minority owned-firms.

“Capital does not flow to the best ideas,” Hinson said. “Capital flows to the best relationships. So a big component of this effort is to make sure that these minority-owned firms who are growing businesses, hiring people, creating economic opportunities for families, have the necessary relationships for them to prosper.”

The Commerce Department has awarded grants to six cities nationwide that are designed to boost job creation and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses.

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @JOEMIKELEAHY