Press Releases

Urban Business Connection Enters Second Year of Partnership

April 28th, 2022

The Columbus Chamber (Chamber) and the Columbus Urban League (CUL) are continuing to join forces in an innovative partnership to advance a shared priority of improving racial inequities, specifically amongst Black entrepreneurs and businesses. Through this collaboration, 47 new Black-owned businesses will become members of the Chamber community, providing access to everything from high-level consulting to social media, direct sales, and marketing support. As part of this partnership, the Chamber will aspire to connect black-owned business suppliers to Chamber member businesses resulting in increased spending of $1 million in year one.

These new Chamber members come specifically from the logistics & retail, healthcare, and IT/technology industries (see below for a full list). The partnership builds on the work of CUL’s Minority Small Business Resiliency Initiative, which launched in early 2020 to help Black entrepreneurs level the playing field and access emergency loans, grants and long-term financing. Since March 2020, the initiative has engaged more than 2,200 businesses, secured $7.6 million in funding and saved or created more than 1,250 jobs.

The Chamber/CUL partnership includes a pledge to ensure Chamber members increase the amount they spend on services and goods with Black-owned companies, which is also a priority for the Chamber’s new Diversity, Equity 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.

In addition to helping Black entrepreneurs get funding, CUL’s Minority Small Business Resiliency Initiative offers strategic guidance and an authentic approach to provide a personalized array of services, each tailored to the entrepreneur’s needs. CUL President and CEO Stephanie Hightower said that’s what made the Chamber partnership such a natural fit.

“Certainly the social justice movement and COVID-19 illuminated the disparities that we know have existed for decades,” Hightower said. “We see an opportunity now for Columbus to set a national trend when it comes to helping our minority businesses grow. This partnership with the Chamber is about more than just filling a gap in our financial infrastructure. It’s about creating an infrastructure where truly everyone in our community can thrive.”

List of Businesses involved in the Chamber/CUL partnership:

*Indicated second-year program participation

For more information, please contact:

Columbus Chamber of Commerce
Mallory Roth
Program Manager
(614) 221-6081

Columbus Urban League
Jesse Mark, MBA, Regional Director of MBAC

About the Columbus Chamber of Commerce
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce is a resources-based non-profit organization serving more than 2,200 member businesses in Central Ohio. Providing support in areas such as research, marketing, talent advisement, networking, and government affairs, the Chamber has been helping businesses thrive since its founding in 1884.

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