State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today joined Democratic lawmakers, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and business leaders at a Statehouse press conference to outline their blueprint to strengthen Ohio’s minority-owned businesses. The event kicked off Minority Business Day at the Statehouse and highlighted successful business development programs in West’s district he says serve as a model for the state.
“Minority-owned businesses are growing in Stark County thanks in part to a number of programs that connect entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools they need to succeed,” said Rep. West. “As lawmakers, we should take notice and expand these programs statewide to strengthen Ohio’s 125,000 minority businesses and the thousands more entrepreneurs looking to get their ideas off the ground.”
The ELITE program, administered in partnership with the London Stock Exchange, is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses grow and scale up. Currently, ELITE is working with minority-owned businesses in Stark County, as well as several businesses in Youngstown, Ohio and Southeast Ohio, to help expand operations and grow good paying jobs. ELITE recently announced the selection of Cleveland as the location for its U.S. headquarters.
Rep. West also announced $300,000 in state funds for the Stark County Minority Business Association (SCMBA), which will be used in partnership with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide mentorship and other resources to its member businesses.
“Minority-owned businesses historically have lacked access to capital and other resources to get up and running,” added West. “What we’re seeing is that these partnerships are beginning to close the gap, giving minority businesses the opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive in a changing economy.”