Spartanburg officials are working to increase opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses through $6 million in American Rescue Plan funds.
The Spartanburg County Council recently allocated use of the funds in support of OneSpartanburg’s Vision Plan 2.0 over the next five years.
Spartanburg has led the state of South Carolina in new job creation for years, said OneSpartanburg Inc. CEO Allen Smith, as a destination for mid-size to large corporations so why not be the leader for small business growth?
The comprehensive strategy is designed to build up small and minority businesses in the county by reducing racial equity gaps in entrepreneurship and small business, and create a supportive small and minority business environment.
Spartanburg’s small business composition is smaller than the national average, said Smith, and even smaller when it comes to minority business owners. For example, there are 3.1 Black-owned businesses for every thousand in the nation while there are only 1.5 Black-owned businesses per every thousand in Spartanburg County.
“We know resources exist, but we don’t know where they are or how to find them, so we pull together partners in this space,” Smith added.
The nine-point comprehensive strategy plan focuses on the following action steps through summer 2023 and ongoing:
- Create a team dedicated to small and minority business development;
- Create a small and minority business development collaborative;
- Build a small and minority business success hub;
- Provide technical support for small and minority;
- Connect small and minority-owned business to large customers;
- Create Main Street challenge programs in active downtowns;
- Develop a targeted small and minority business loan fund/grant to help small and minority businesses access capital;
- Advocate for economic incentives for small and minority businesses; and
- Market to raise awareness of small and minority business resources.
“We have countywide key performance indicators we will be measuring against, but it’s important to understand we are still in the development stages of the plan won’t formally announce the final plan until 2023,” said Smith. “We want to be the best at connecting small businesses with big business, and it takes preparation for supporting small businesses to do so, but the plan is very fluid at this point.”
In the next five years, if the plan is successful, said Smith, the county will see an overall increase in small minority businesses, payroll growth, job growth, percentage of employment go up, Black-owned employer firms go up, new business licenses go up, among other performance indicators.
One of the first action steps is to build a small and minority business success hub, which is powered by Duke Energy, so businesses know where they need to go for assistance, said Smith. The hub is expected to launch in spring 2023.
“When we do launch our plan, on day one we will begin gathering data and checking in on small businesses on a regular basis to gauge how businesses are growing and if there is assistance needed,” he added. “The whole idea is if you look at small businesses on a continuum, there are so many stages in the life cycle of a business, and we want to build that ecosystem here in Spartanburg. Whether a business is grossing $50,000 or $2 million, there is a place for you.”