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New Program Aims to Strengthen Minority-Owned Summit County Small Businesses

downtown skyline
Minority-owned small businesses in Akron and around Summit County can apply for financial and technical assistance under a new program.

Minority contractors can apply for funding and technical support through a new Summit County program. The Minority Contractor Capital Access Program aims to help businesses that otherwise might not survive the pandemic.

The fund was created through  a partnership by the city of Akron, Summit County, Akron Urban League, Greater Akron Chamber and the Western Reserve Community Fund. 

Fifteen racially and culturally based minority contractors will be selected in the first year of the program. They’ll have access to financial assistance and to training and certification programs to help them grow.

The pandemic prompted the organizers to develop the minority program faster than originally planned. Rachel Bridenstine is executive director of the Western Reserve Community Fund, which is managing the program with the Akron Urban League.

“Historically economic crisis hits minority communities, businesses, those populations so much harder and the early data is showing that this pandemic is going to be doubly bruising on those communities,” she said.

The program is targeting businesses in the building industry from plumbers and electricians to landscapers and architects. 

“We found this to be an extremely catalytic sector that we can support the growth and success of," Bridenstine said. "These businesses will in turn create quality jobs for the region.”

The minority program will accept applications through July 31.

Register here for an online information session on June 30 at noon.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.