Chamber News

Urban Business Connection Enters Fourth Year of Partnership

May 16th, 2024

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce (Columbus Chamber) and the Columbus Urban League are continuing to join forces in an innovative partnership to advance a shared priority of improving racial inequities, specifically amongst Black entrepreneurs and businesses. From 2021 – 2024, this program has grown to include 105 businesses. Through this collaboration, businesses will become members of the Columbus Chamber community, providing access to everything from high-level consulting to social media, direct sales, and marketing support. As part of this partnership, the Columbus Chamber will aspire to connect black-owned business suppliers to Columbus Chamber member businesses. This program is generously supported by the City of Columbus.

“As chair of the Economic Development & Small and Minority Business committee, this program continues to do exactly what I aim to do on council in my position, pour resources, access and opportunity into the Black business community so that every Black business in this city has a shot at being successful” said Councilmember Nick Bankston. “The success of this program is a testament to what happens when intentionality meets purpose and is one of the many tools this city has in its arsenal to continue the fight towards equity.”

The Columbus Chamber, Columbus Urban League, and the City of Columbus partnership includes a pledge to ensure Columbus Chamber members increase the amount they spend on services and goods with Black-owned companies, which is also a priority for the Columbus Chamber’s Diversity, Culture and Inclusion committee.

“What is exciting about this program is that life is about partnerships and relationships, and this relationship with the Columbus Urban League and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce is priceless. Ten years from now, fifteen years from now, we will be able to look back on this and hopefully it will be an extraordinary robust program. We will have all types of minority owned businesses as part of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce as the true regional Chamber and continue to move forward,” said Don DePerro, President and CEO of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

The outcomes from the partnership with the Columbus Chamber has been truly remarkable and impactful. To date, the Columbus Urban League has facilitated over 100 members in joining the Columbus Chamber, resulting in significant cost savings for these businesses. Beyond just financial benefits, our collaborative efforts have spurred remarkable growth for businesses through the introductions and partnerships forged within the program.

“Research from business experts like McKinsey & Company tells us that a fully inclusive economy adds $2 trillion-plus to the US’ annual GDP,” said Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League. “Expanding opportunity for underrepresented groups benefits everyone in Central Ohio, or as I like to say, everyone wins when everyone’s in. We deeply value the Columbus Chamber’s partnership as we work together to ensure more Black businesses thrive, innovate and contribute to greater wealth for our entire community.”

The symbiotic relationship between the Columbus Chamber and the Columbus Urban League has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the success stories of our clients, enabling them to achieve their business objectives and contribute to the vibrant economic landscape of our community.

In addition to helping Black entrepreneurs get funding, Columbus Urban League’s Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) offers strategic guidance and an authentic approach to provide a personalized array of services, each tailored to the entrepreneur’s needs. Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower said that’s what made the Columbus Chamber partnership such a natural fit.  Through continued access to approved capital and contracts, businesses have been empowered to pursue their goals with confidence.

For more information, please contact:

Columbus Chamber of Commerce
Mallory Roth, Director of Programming
(614) 221-6081

Columbus Urban League
Andrea Wilkes, Regional Director of MBAC
(614) 257-6300

About The Columbus Chamber of Commerce 
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that serves more than 2,300 organizations. Founded in 1884, the Columbus Chamber is dedicated to fostering prosperity and growth in the Columbus Region Business Community through connections, resources, and advocacy. Serving as the epicenter of the Columbus Region’s business community, the Columbus Chamber provides an interconnected ecosystem where businesses collaborate to eliminate barriers to prosperity, creating a vibrant environment for enterprises throughout the Columbus Region. Together, we make our region an exceptional business destination. Learn more:

About the Columbus Urban League
Your Columbus Urban League has led Central Ohio’s racial and economic equity movement for more than a century. Our culturally authentic, integrated services achieve family stability and economic mobility, touching more than 70,000 people in 2020 alone. Thousands more now seek our help to survive health, economic and racist devastation. We relentlessly work for:

  • Recovery – emergency relief that keeps families in housing and businesses flourishing
  • Reform – policies that eliminate systemic racism
  • Resiliency – coaching that boosts individual earning power while leveling the economic playing field for black communities

Learn more: