By Dawn Scotland
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter
Whether you’re a dreamer or a multimillionaire, the Northwest Ohio Minority Business Assistance Center is here to help.
For the past three months, NWOMBAC has been operating at One Government Center, Suite 800 and after renovations they will be moving to their permanent location of 3737 W. Sylvania Ave – Lucas County Shared Offices in mid to late November.
However, managing principal Shanda Gore, Ed.D says the location doesn’t matter. “We meet our clients where their businesses are, “says Gore. “We meet them out in public, we meet them at events that we either host, co-host or at events that are in the community. Anywhere that we can make sure we are out in front of [the individuals] that need them. Again, at no cost.”
NWOMBAC is one of seven centers throughout the state of Ohio created to help grow, support and develop minority businesses.
“Each center is staffed with trained business advisors who can provide no-cost counseling to polish business practices and help businesses grow and create jobs,” according to www.development.ohio.gov. “The centers support minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses by offering no-cost counseling, state certification support, and trainings focused on creating jobs and increasing sales.”
Services are free, confidential and ongoing.
Gore is a familiar face in the Toledo community and no stranger to business. She is the president and founder of Mays and Associates, Ltd., a global strategic planning and consulting company and the vice president of Innovation and Growth Management at Union Institute & University, an online university that has been ranked the number one adult-focused and diverse nonprofit university in Ohio.
Gore is also the former Assistant Vice President of the University of Toledo and served as the university’s first Chief Diversity Officer. There she created the University of Toledo Minority Business Development Incubator Center that had grossed $17 million at the time that she left.
Now as the managing principal of this Minority Business Assistance Center, it is her fourth time managing the grant. The hosting institutions for this grant-funded center in the Northwest Ohio Region are Mays and Associates, Ltd. and The Institute for Social Justice at Union Institute & University.
Gore has more than 24 years of experience and is a teacher, trainer and coach for individuals, small and large public and private organizations and she wants to help you.
“You may have a dream… and not sure where to start,” she said. “We walk [clients] through models… some hobbies turn into a work opportunity for you. What is great about our team is they are thoroughly trained to walk you through concepts, what that looks like, and to see where you are.”
The NWOMBAC team includes a Managing PI, a regional director (Stayce Fowler), two business consultants, an administrative assistant and an advisory board. Collectively there is 100-plus years of experience in developing and implementing business strategies as business owners and executives from Fortune 100 corporations.
No matter what stage you are in your business the NWOMBAC will ensure that you get the help that you need and meet you where you are. The center provides solutions to individuals, startups, non-profits, small businesses and large-scale corporations. The services provided by MBAC are also ongoing.
“There are different phases of your business…”, says Gore. “I think that there is a misperception that when you’ve had enough help, you don’t need any more help…we’ll move on to someone else. No. We want that business to not just survive, we want it to thrive. And that is the mentally of my staff. If you’re a multimillionaire now fantastic – how can we get you to a billion?”
The NWOMBAC is on the fast track to reaching their two-year goals. Since July, they have counseled over 60 clients, engaged in 245 counseling hours and participated in 28 outreach events. Their aim is to reach over 400 businesses in the Northwest Ohio area.
Along with her robust team they have established and/or re-established four satellite outreach locations including Lima-Allen County, Fremont-Sandusky County, Findlay-Hancock County and Toledo-Lucas County.
This month, Governor Mike DeWine’s and Lt. Governor Jon Husted’s offices announced two new loan programs that will specifically run through the NWOMBAC:
“Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program: These loans will be offered at or below market rate and currently are up to 3%. The minimum loan amount is $45,000 up to a maximum of $500,000. Loans will be repaid within 10 years for equipment and machinery and 15 years for owner-occupied real estate. Businesses must be 51% ownership and control by women or be certified as a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE).
“Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program: These loans will have a 0% interest rate. The minimum loan is $10,000 up to a maximum of $45,000. Loans will be repaid within five years for permanent working capital and seven years for equipment. Businesses must be certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE).
“The loan programs will be administered by the Ohio Department of Development (Development) through the Minority Business Development Division. It joins four other capital programs offered by Development: the Ohio Minority Business Bonding Program, the Ohio Minority Business Direct Loan Program, the Collateral Enhancement Program, and the Ohio Capital Access Program.”
The center wants to make sure you get certified so you don’t miss out on opportunities available for minority businesses. Along with free one-on-one counseling, they provide assistance in completing documentation to obtain MBE, EDGE, WBE and DBE certifications, and referrals to financial assistance programs.
The extent of what the NWOMBAC provides may be overwhelming but don’t let that keep you from taking the first step to better your business. “Come in and just start a conversation with us. You don’t have to pick a service… Just come in and we’ll talk with you and figure out [what service you need],” says Gore.
The NWOMBAC takes both walk-ins and appointments. Services are available to all minority groups including but not limited to veterans, women, and the disabled. Contact the center at 419-213-3890. The office ensures a 24-business hour response. For more information on the NWOMBAC visit www.nwombac.com.