DCA conducting minority business program; Pilot program is a partnership between several groups
Published 8:47 am Monday, May 21, 2018
The Development Corporation of Austin is hoping to help minority business owners through its Austin Area Minority Business Project.
The project is a pilot program created by a partnership between the DCA, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research, the Latino Economic Development Center and the Ballard Spahr Pro Bono Team.
“In economic development, you want to build on your assets as much as you can,” said DCA President and CEO John Garry. “In this case, we have so many people who are relatively new to the community with a world of experience and different types of experience. The advantage of this program is it will help support us to be able to reach out to immigrant and minority businesses, see if they have ideas and see what we can do to help empower them and support them.”
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According to the ILCM, 10.3 percent of Austin’s population is foreign-born while 17.3 percent speak a language other than English at home. Under this project, minority business owners are provided “business technical legal support and education, immigration legal services, holistic pro bono legal services, and longitudinal, holistic evaluation and outcome analysis.”
Garry said the program currently has 10 entrepreneurs participating.
“It’s picking up,” he said. “There are some people we meet with just one time and there are some we meet with multiple times. It’s a wide range of types of businesses. It could be a repair shop or someone who has been making food in their home and want to new location to make more of it and there are certain regulations they need to make sure they’re aware of.”
Garry also said there have been challenges the DCA is working to address.
“The challenge is more on our end,” he said. “The traditional means of reaching out to entrepreneurs may need to be thought of in different ways for people who haven’t been here that long. To learn ways to get to know more people in these communities has been a challenge, and I think it’s a healthy, good challenge that we’re very interested in taking on. We reach out to people who are connected with (minority communities), like the Welcome Center and some entrepreneurs we do know in those communities and ask them. We’ve visited classrooms at the Community Learning Center with the more advanced English language learners. We come to them with integrity and authentic interest in wanting to see their dreams come closer to reality.”
Garry said the DCA is looking for new entrepreneurs and anyone who is willing to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. Anyone who is interested may contact the DCA at 507-433-9495.