It’s been one year since the Minority Business Development Center began helping minority businesses get their starts.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 center is successful due to its great participating UT students and relationships with both internal groups and external companies and organizations,” said Dr. Shanda Gore, UT assistant vice president for equity and diversity.
Formerly known as the Minority Business Incubator, the center is led and sponsored by the Office of Equity and Diversity. It filled its originally allotted offices in the first four months thanks to support from UT senior administrators, both chambers that reside there, the Division of Facilities and Construction, the College of Business Administration, the UT Incubation Program, the Center for Family and Privately Held Business, and the UT Minority Business/EDGE Committee, Gore said.
“We not only have the goal to help minority entrepreneurs reach their goals and thrive in our local economy, but to assist our students with real-world experiences in hopes of them obtaining a job,” she said. “The center is a demonstration of UT’s commitment to supporting the surrounding community as well as enhancing the academic experiences of students. We provide our affiliates office space to lease, access to resources at the University including interns and graduate assistants, and partner with organizations to provide programming for these businesses.”
The first tenant, Oona Temple, has expanded her recruiting and staffing company Cosine Technical Group from two to five employees and ultimately hired one of her interns, Savannah Tillman, after she graduated. Temple also quickly outgrew her original 125-square-foot space and moved to an 855-square-foot area. The goal is to “graduate” her from the program within the next two years.
“Each of the interns provided the opportunity to work with the development center has been a vital asset to Cosine Technical Group’s growth over the past 12 months,” Temple said. “They have gone above and beyond to assist Cosine Technical Group.”
The Minority Business Development Center now occupies a 5,400-square-foot area in the Engineering Technology Laboratory Center at Scott Park.
The center also is housing the Ohio Department of Administrative Services’ Equal Opportunities Division while it oversees the renovation project in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories selected as a state test of a new construction method that is more flexible and could increase minority participation in public construction.
Through a UT Incubation Program grant, the Minority Business Development Center is preparing to hire a manager to help continue its success of growing Toledo area minority businesses.