A Watershed Moment for Oregon
On April 6, Business Impact NW gathered for a ribbon-cutting event in Beaverton to celebrate the grand opening of the Oregon Minority Business Development Agency Business Center (MBDA). More than 100 guests were in attendance, including community leaders, resource partners, government agencies, and elected officials. Guest speakers included Business Impact NW CEO Joe Sky-Tucker and Program Director Kenyatta Trice, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, and Oregon Deputy Secretary of State, Cheryl Myers. Congresswoman Bonamici and Deputy Secretary of State Myers both voiced their excitement for what they deem a major stride toward strengthening minority business enterprises across Oregon.
Business Impact NW and the Oregon MBDA Business Center extended a special thanks to OnPoint Community Credit Union and Advantis Credit Union for sponsoring the event, as well as the continued support from sustaining partners: SBA, USDA, Umpqua Bank, BECU, WSECU, Harborstone Credit Union, Verity Credit Union, and Sound Credit Union.
A Federal Grant to Fill the Gap
In 2022, Business Impact NW was awarded a federal grant to establish the Oregon MBDA Business Center. The business center will provide critical aid to underserved and underrepresented small businesses and entrepreneurs in Oregon. Oregon is overwhelmingly a “small business state”. As of 2022, small businesses account for 99.4% of all Oregon businesses. Roughly 7.6% are owned by non-white entrepreneurs (SBA.gov, 2022).
The MBDA Business Center is just the first step towards increasing the rates of small business ownership and financial stability for underserved communities in Washington County and across Oregon.
All-Around Services, Statewide Access
Through the MBDA Business Center, Business Impact NW will support minority-owned business enterprises across Oregon by providing technical assistance and capital access services, including one-on-one coaching, business training, contracting and certification aid, business accelerator programs, and loan readiness. The MBDA Business Center will be located in Beaverton, but services will be available virtually to ensure access across the state.
US Senator Jeff Merkley, a strong advocate for expanding MBDAs nationwide, proudly stated that the entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in Oregon. “The opening of the MBDA is a wonderful moment for Business Impact NW and the entire region,” said Senator Merkley. “Small businesses are the backbones of communities. This center will be a powerful resource for BIPOC-owned businesses. It will establish connections, build communities, and provide the resources businesses need to grow.”
Diversity Through Intentionality
Program director Kenyatta Trice shared her vision for the Oregon MBDA Business Center–an MBDA business center that can unite with other Oregon agencies and organizations. One that works together collaboratively rather than competitively. “The brilliant author, Jacqueline Wilson once said, ‘Diversity is about all of us and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together,” Trice said. “The Oregon MBDA is focused on strategic partnerships. We’re connectors, and the MBDA Business Center is making intentional connections.”
Connecting as Partners in Purpose
Trice says Oregon currently has great opportunities in place to help minority-owned businesses. She views the Oregon MBDA as a liaison to create and make connections stronger. “For some small businesses, it’s about determining the right resources geared toward growth, increased revenue, and longevity of the business. The Oregon MBDA will provide services that ensure minority-owned businesses reach their full potential, extend generational wealth, and remain competitive.”
About the author
Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day. As a Bay Area native, Janelle has witnessed the rise and fall of countless startups and small businesses. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.
Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She worked as a copywriter for companies such as Coldwell Banker, Callisto Media, a publisher of nonfiction and self-help books, and Artslandia magazine, a premier publisher of performing arts playbills throughout the Portland metro area. In a leap of faith, Janelle moved her family to Seattle in 2021 and worked with Committee for Children, an educational nonprofit committed to supporting the well-being of children through social-emotional learning.