Updated: 3/19/2014 1:55 PM CST BY TOM JOYNER FOUNDATION
March 18, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UAPB-ERDC to host development workshops
for minority and women-owned businesses
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Jefferson County/Pine Bluff, Arkansas, home to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, has been selected as one of six communities in the lower-Mississippi Delta to receive an investment in technical assistance and other resources targeting the growth and development of Minority and Women Business Enterprises (M/WBEs). UAPB’s Economic Research and Development Center (ERDC) and its Business Support Incubator have been identified by DRA as the lead agency to partner with the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum (The MMBC Continuum) of Memphis, Tennessee in outreaching to minority businesses in the region. This special program is sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and is a part of DRA’s comprehensive Small Business and Entrepreneurship Initiative. The goals of the initiative are to diversify the region’s economic base, create and save jobs, increase the competitiveness of existing businesses, foster the development and use of innovative technologies, and enhance entrepreneurial activity.
While there has been a spike in the number of minority firms created, many of these firms are sole proprietors, having few to no employees and low gross sales. Without the ability to grow and scale up, these businesses cannot be major sources of job creation. By 2050, minorities are projected to make up half of the U.S. population, currently comprising 35.5% of the population of the Delta region. Today, minority unemployment rates are at 13.2 percent; more than double that of the non-minority population. With the understanding that minority employers typically have 76% of their workforce comprised of minority employees, support for these businesses is crucial to the growth and sustainability of Delta communities.
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