Empowering Tomorrow: The Transformative Impact of MBAC on Minority Business Success

By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter

In the heart of our community, the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) stands as a compass, helping proprietors navigate the turbulent seas of entrepreneurship. Like skilled architects, they construct bridges of opportunity, connecting diverse dreams to the firm ground of success. The MBAC is a sanctuary, where seeds of ambition blossom into towering oaks defying the limitations of the past.

In our current economic landscape, Ebony Carter is a true guiding force, serving as Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Minority Business Services, and Director of the Minority Business Assistance Center.

A born and bred Toledoan, Carter says enthusiastically, “Our new team of professionals are rearing and ready to help our local minority businesses navigate their journey successfully!”

Picture the MBAC as a vibrant spectrum, gleaming with rays of cultural diversity, entrepreneurship, and tenacity. Carter and her dedicated staff are like master weavers, intertwining these elements, crafting a narrative of empowerment and economic freedom for local minority owned businesses to thrive. The Center is a professional workshop, transforming the aspirations of our local business community into tangible realities, much like molten metal crafted into formidable tools of success.

As Carter mentors, she’s like a sculptor chiseling away self-doubt and barriers, revealing the innate brilliance within each entrepreneur. “So much of a business’s success is a product of the proper positive mindset,” she shares.

The Minority Business Assistance Center becomes a crucible, where the raw materials of ambition are refined into diamonds, each facet reflecting the unique stories etched by resilience and determination. In the narrative of community progress, Ebony Carter utilizes her mastery in financial literacy helping businesses navigate the financial terrain, creating roadmaps that guide them towards sustainable growth.

“Cost benefit analysis (CBA) is an analytical tool used by businesses for crucial decision making,” explains Carter.  “We effectively use this tool to measure the costs associated with making beneficial decisions minus the cost of taking action.”

Every business encounters peaks and valleys, yet the presence of success metrics like these is what truly sets a flourishing business apart from the pack.

As minorities, we often embark on a journey where the path is less traveled. In the web of entrepreneurship, first-generation business owners and minorities often find themselves navigating a maze fraught with unique challenges. The weight of legacy and the uphill battle against systemic barriers can sometimes make success feel like an elusive mirage.

For Toledo’s entrepreneurial trailblazers, however, the MBAC stands as a guiding light, a compass in the storm.

“We understand that the journey is not solely sustaining business, but also includes scaling profitably,” says Carter.

Scaling a business is not merely a numerical feat but a triumph over the skepticism that shadows minority entrepreneurs.

In order to transcend the limitations imposed by a system that has historically been stacked against minorities, the City of Toledo is forging a new path of empowerment, where opportunities are accessible, and barriers crumble in the face of equitable progress.

In October of 2022 the City of Toledo did a disparity study, a comprehensive endeavor aimed at examining various aspects crucial for the city’s growth and inclusivity.

The study focuses on the availability and utilization of minority business enterprises (MBEs) and non-minority woman business enterprises (WBEs) while examining relevant evidence of race or gender-based disparities in the city’s contracting practices.

“The efforts of the city are commendable and truly fostering diversity and inclusion,” says Carter.

The disparity study process encompasses various crucial components, such as statistical and econometric analysis, scrutiny of legal and purchasing practices, examination of the private sector, analysis of anecdotal evidence, and formulation of findings and recommendations.

“There are many programs and contracts we help businesses procure at the MBAC,” says Carter.

The Economic Development Loan (EDL) Program and other financial assistance, administered by the City’s Economic Development Division, is displaying the city’s commitment to economic empowerment. The EDL Program provides a crescendo of financial support particularly for those from diverse backgrounds. The program is not just a loan; it’s a key signature in the composition of a more inclusive and vibrant Toledo business landscape.

Although the city’s study unveils statistically significant underutilization for minority owned businesses in certain categories, the plans being put in place to tackle this barrier is a promising bridge to a harmonious future.

“Here at the MBAC we also help women-owned businesses,” shares Carter.

MWBE stands for Minority and Women Business Enterprise. It is a designation that recognizes businesses owned and operated by individuals who are minorities or women. This classification is often used in the context of government contracts, procurement, and business development programs to promote diversity and inclusion by providing opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in business.

Toledo’s new MWBE Subcontractor Goals Program emerges as a refrain to our disparity study, encouraging the consistent contractual use of minority and women-owned businesses. It’s a program intended to change underutilization into an opportunity for growth, weaving a melody of empowerment in the Glass City’s economic fabric.

The establishment of Toledo’s new policies to investigate possible discrimination in the business marketplace is setting the stage for real equity and justice.  Annual and contract-by-contract aspirational goals become the thematic motifs, weaving through the score of the city’s commitment to progress.

The city’s initiatives, from the small business reserve program to the streamlining of certification processes, are like verses in a song of support.

“We can’t wait to help our local minority businesses thrive. Our services are free of charge and our mission is helping to build equitable generational wealth right here in Toledo,” says Carter.

The MBAC is creating an ensemble of services and opportunities that amplify the voices of minority and women-owned businesses, and it’s truly beginning to harmonize into a chorus of empowerment.

In the grand finale, the allocation of resources and staffing becomes the powerful coda, sustaining this momentum of change. The city’s commitment to data reform, bonding waivers, prompt pay, and apprenticeship program thresholds is like a triumphant finale, showcasing inclusivity with a resounding note of progress.

The efforts of Carter and her team at the Minority Business Assistance Center, the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, and the City are not just commendable; they are the sheet music for a melody of progress, where every business, regardless of background, contributes to the flourishing composition of a more inclusive and vibrant Toledo.

The Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) stands as a beacon for businesses, offering invaluable support in crafting robust strategies and systems. Through personalized guidance in areas such as marketing, financial planning, and operations, the MBAC will empower your business in navigating the complexities of the market landscape. This assistance is a linchpin for productivity, providing you with tailored frameworks that streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and foster innovation.

Schedule a no cost appointment with a trained business counselor @development.ohio.gov/business/minority-business/minority-business-assistance-centers