Editor’s note: KC BizCare is a financial supporter of Startland News. This story was produced independently by Startland News.
KC BizCare announced a series of inclusive entrepreneurship initiatives Thursday, including a partnership with Operation HOPE that will provide 500 Black-owned businesses in Kansas City with resources to grow their businesses.
That partnership is part of Operation HOPE’s 1 Million Black Businesses (1MBB) Initiative, a nationwide program with a goal of helping one million Black-owned businesses scale by 2030.
“By the year 2030, we’re gonna have a lotta success stories coming right here at City Hall about how this partnership, along with the local ecosystem, has benefitted Black-owned businesses in the great city of Kansas City,” said Lance Triggs, president of Operation HOPE.
Each of the 500 small business owners will receive $25,000 worth of financial coaching, entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and access to capital, Triggs said, adding up to $12.5 million in value in Kansas City alone.
Those resources and services will be completely free, he added, courtesy of a $130 million investment from Shopify.
Less than 10 percent of the 31 million small businesses in America are Black-owned, and only 3 percent of those are job creators, according to Triggs. Those “sobering” statistics are why 1MBB was created, he said.
“It’s truly designed to help businesses really get the support they need to grow and expand and make a difference,” Triggs said.
In addition to the partnership with Operation HOPE and 1MBB, KC BizCare highlighted several of its other recent grant awards, as well as the opening of its new office in City Hall.
Nia Richardson, managing director of KC BizCare, said the new office would help KC BizCare more efficiently support local business owners face-to-face.
Richardson went on to showcase a quartet of grants that her office will use to develop a more inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Kansas City.
Most notably, she said KC BizCare will allocate $500,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward small businesses and entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) in the city.
The goal, according to Richardson, is to leverage those dollars to create a low- to no-interest revolving loan fund for small businesses.
“The hope is that we create a fund that’s more accessible for small businesses — especially new businesses — to grow,” Richardson said.
The city also received two grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Richardson announced.
KC BizCare hopes to start an ESO accelerator with the first grant, Richardson said, which is $300,000 dedicated to inclusive ecosystem research.
The second Kauffman Foundation award — $250,000 — will be used to implement a small business capital access program.
Finally, KC BizCare will partner with the National League of Cities, which will commit $15,000 to remove barriers for Hispanic-owned businesses, Richardson said.
Mayor Quinton Lucas offered remarks at the ceremony as well, celebrating the work Richardson and her team are doing for business owners in Kansas City.
“We have talked about how we need to make sure that as we incentivize the city, it isn’t just big real estate deals, it isn’t just all the stuff you’ve always heard about — it’s actually money to support people,” Lucas said.
“People who are building up in all neighborhoods in our city, in all communities in our city, and who are making real connections each and every day in every part of Kansas City,” Lucas continued.
Lucas specifically highlighted how the city and KC BizCare are supporting the growth of minority business owners, which he compared to efforts that have revitalized cities elsewhere across the nation.
“The ecosystem that we are building in Kansas City right now is the story that you have heard in other American cities in the past: Atlanta, New York, and others,” Lucas said. “We are seeing that growth right now, here in Kansas City.”
This story is possible thanks to support from KC BizCare, a free business resource, advocacy and information center for new and existing businesses operating with the City of Kansas City. It provides its customers with information and assistance in understanding and complying with city, state and federal requirements for operating a business.