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Economy

LaRose Hosts Akron Business Leaders to Discuss Minority Entrepreneurs

photo of Zoom meeting Frank LaRose minority business
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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (center, right) has hosted five in person minority business forums since last year. He hosted his first virtual roundtable today for Akron businesses. Next week, he'll virtually host Youngstown business leaders.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose hosted Akron civic and business leaders today for a virtual roundtable on minority business.

The discussion focused on ways to help entrepreneurs connect with services and capital – whether starting a business, or growing one.

Akron Deputy Mayor James Hardy says last year, the city spent just five percent of its budget with minority contractors. He says they’re committed to changing that.

“[We’re] developing a rich and very usable database to make sure that we are getting our procurement opportunities out to all of our minority contractors in the region.”

The roundtable also included representatives from the Akron Chamber of Commerce and Summit County. One of the participants was Ace Epps, Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron. He says they offer several programs for minority entrepreneurs – whether they already have a thriving business, or are thinking about starting one.

“I like to call it the toe in the water approach. We try to help people understand the entrepreneur mindset [and] also validate business ideas.”

There’s also a 15-week program for businesses that are already established.

“We do everything from accounting, marketing, [and] hook people up with attorneys. We also do mentoring [and] one-on-one business counseling.”

The Secretary of State has hosted five similar in-person roundtables around Ohio. The next one is Wednesday, June 17, for Youngstown businesses. Sign up information is here.