THE ACCESS CENTER FOR EQUITY + SUCCESS
In a recent study on national economic mobility, Forsyth County ranked as the third worst place in the country to escape poverty.
In a recent study on national economic mobility, Forsyth County ranked 1474th among 1476 counties, meaning we are the third worst place in the country to escape poverty. The only other counties lower than ours are Indian reservations in South Dakota.
We believe entrepreneurship is a pathway to break this cycle for our minority communities, but we also saw several barriers to success for local businesses: lack of expertise, certification, contract opportunities and access to operating capital.
To create a full suite of these services, we partnered with Piedmont Business Capital, a regional CDFI (Community Development Financing Institution) and submitted a grant for two years of operational funding.
In June 2019, we opened the ACCESS Center for Equity + Success in the Innovation Quarter, staffed by an experienced community manager and offering a spectrum of free services to minority and women business owners.
As a revenue source, we created a branded portal to a national database of available contracts, increasing our clients’ visibility to potential opportunities. Access to the portal is available through an affordable subscription. In addition, we created a financial stack of nearly $500,000 to loan to local businesses who meet the criteria.
We have offered hundreds of programs, certification trainings, and coaching sessions both in person and online. We have loaned more than $200,000 which helped create several dozen jobs and contributed to minority firms winning additional business. Since the ACCESS Center is meeting its impact goals and we see ongoing need and financial support sources, we are in the process of establishing the ACCESS Center as an independent non-profit.
BY THE NUMBERS
given out in loans to local woman- and minority-owned businesses
in-person and online programs, certification courses and trainings
woman- and minority-owned businesses served in the first year of operation