The center, located on The University of Toledo Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation, opened Sept. 30, 2009, with one tenant. It has grown to eight tenants, including six companies and two chambers: the African-American Bureau of Commerce and the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The companies have a total of 99 employees, most of whom are located in the Toledo area, and some are enjoying sales revenues of between $580,000 and $846,000.
“The Minority Business Development Center allows the University to combine our commitment to diversity and desire to play a leadership role in facilitating a vibrant northwest Ohio economy,” said Lawrence J. Burns, UT vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for equity and diversity. “The center’s growth in its first year is credited to the hard work of these business owners and collaboration with our community partners.”
“I’m proud of the successes the companies in the Minority Business Development Center are enjoying and the assistance we have been able to provide to support and encourage them,” said Dr. Shanda Gore, UT assistant vice president for equity and diversity. “The University is committed to supporting our community, and when local businesses like Bebley Enterprises and Peak Electric succeed, it’s good for all of Toledo.”
Tom Bebley said the center encourages the businesses to collaborate and expand. He has created 10 jobs for his industrial services business for a total of 45.
“You have an opportunity to watch other businesses and talk with other business owners about what’s going on in the marketplace, which helps me make decisions,” Bebley said. “The culture of collaboration here also encouraged me to begin working with other companies for larger contracts.”
The success of the Minority Business Development Center has led to the growth of not only individual businesses like Bebley’s, but the expansion of the center itself, both in size and scope.
The Minority Business Development Center now occupies more than 5,000 square feet in the Engineering Technology Laboratory at Scott Park, and a new manager, Felissa Parker-Green, has been hired to assist the businesses in meeting its goals.
Parker-Green, who has a background in corporate human resources and supplier diversity and is starting her own paralegal services business, helps the companies access University resources and other business programming, identifies areas of potential growth, and sets goals and metrics to achieve them.
The businesses in the center are provided office space to lease plus access to University resources, including student interns and graduate assistants and the Center for Family and Privately Held Business.