Newark awarded $100K grant by City Accelerator to support minority-owned businesses

Newark is one of five cities nationwide that will share in a $500,000 City Accelerator grant to support minority-owned businesses and the jobs they create.

The grant was awarded by Living Cities, a New York-Washington D.C.-based organization that calls itself a collaborative of 18 foundations and financial institutions to build a new urban practice that gets better results for low-income people.

Newark will work with the other four cities — Atlanta, El Paso, Long Beach and Rochester — over the next year to pursue a range of projects to support the growth of local minority-owned businesses and the creation of additional jobs in their communities.

Local initiatives range from ensuring minority-owned businesses are integrated into the commercial development of the 31-acre Pittsburgh Yards site in Atlanta to expanding small business services through the network of local libraries in El Paso.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the grant will be well spent.

“Taking part in the City Accelerator initiative will help us get two of my administration’s most important initiatives off the ground: Buy Newark and the Contractor Development Initiative,” he said. “Whether ensuring that anchor institutions commit to increasing purchasing from Newark businesses or large developers partner with smaller minority and women-owned contractors, we are implementing unique programs to drive local procurement.

“Newark is a city on the rise and we look forward to working with Citi Foundation and Living Cities as we use every tool in our toolkit to ensure that development is inclusive.”

The $100,000 will be used as follows, according to the Newark Community Economic Development Corp.: $75,000 will go to the Contractors Development Initiative (Newark CDI), and the remainder to the Newark Business Services Providers Network.

The Newark CDI will train 20 to 30 Newark-based minority- and female-owned contracting firms in the principles of small business management. The classes are 15 sessions, and include such topics as business credit, contract law, bonding, estimating financial statements, and how to write business plans, marketing material, and how to use project management tools.

The Business Services Providers Network is a referral network that coordinates resources for Newark-based businesses and entrepreneurs. This program provides quarterly meetings and creates shared databases and resource guides, so that contractors can connect with potential clients, and vital resources to expand their businesses and achieve their goals.

Ed Skyler, Citi’s executive vice president for global public affairs and chair of the Citi Foundation, said the impact of the grant will be felt.

“While the impact of small business growth on the U.S. economy is widely appreciated, the potential of minority-owned small businesses is often overlooked,” he said. “These cities recognize this untapped potential and are coming together to rethink how they work with minority-owned small businesses to help them grow and create high-quality jobs.”

All five cities selected for this Accelerator are majority-minority, meaning that relative to the overall U.S. population, racial minorities comprise a majority of the local population, making them prime urban centers to address the barriers people of minority-owned businesses face, including access to capital, connections to industries, and navigating regulations.

Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht said he has seen the impact the program, now in its fifth year, has had.

“Cities can have a disproportionately positive impact on local entrepreneurial ecosystems and the creation of good jobs,” he said. “The cities in this latest initiative will be showing how they can harness all of their assets to support and grow businesses owned by the nation’s fastest growing populations — people of color — and help to close racial gaps in wealth and income in their own backyards.”

In addition to a $100,000 grant, each city will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, changes in standard small business support practices, staff training, leadership and accountability structures, communications, outreach and relationship building, and capacity-building.

Technical assistance for the effort will be provided by Rodrick Miller, CEO and president of Ascendant Global, an economic development consulting firm. Miller has previously served as the CEO and president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and the New Orleans Business Alliance.