With sweltering debt amongst talks and signs of an economic comeback, especially in the downtown area, Detroit’s renaissance will require more than the city negotiating with unions, investigating its pension board or filing for bankruptcy. With a dwindling population, high unemployment and crime, still out of control, there exist thousands of business students, aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who have been virtually overlooked or rendered clueless on how to effectively start and successfully operate a venture of their own. Some have sought to gain insight by attending college, but have found that the business degree made them proficient at managing people and processes, primarily for someone else’s company. Others have joined professional organizations in hopes of networking their way into the next big contract, only to become frustrated at the lack of large companies unwilling to take a chance on a small business.
With an overall unemployment rate of nearly 14%, the African-American community in Detroit mirrors that of cities like Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans in terms of people out of work. In a statement released by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge - “While the private sector has steadily added jobs for 37 months, the public sector, where many African Americans are employed, continued to lose them.”
This compelling national crisis requires specialized trainings, workshops and business support services for emerging minority entrepreneurs.
Why focus on Minority Entrepreneurs?
The short answer is a growing racial wealth gap in America.
According to U.S. Census data, white household median net worth is 10 times that of Black households. The median net worth for African Americans was $11,800 compared with $118,000 for whites. According to a 2007 Pew Charitable Trusts study, "nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults" and "forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class in 1968 – a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars – grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation's earners, with a median family income of $23,100."
As of July 2013, the unemployment rate for Black Americans aged 18 thru 29 years old is 23.7%, nearly reaching the peak unemployment rate during the Great Depression of 25.4% in 1933. Recently, and according to the Labor Department, 496,000 workers left the labor force joining more than 800,000 discouraged workers who have already given up hope of finding work.
Knowing that the two most critical components for business success in the minority community are “Access to Capital” and “Making the Right Connections”, underserved and underperforming minority owned businesses can expect to receive critical training and support from on-site consultants, venture enhancing workshops and facilitation of opportunities. From solopreneurs to established startups, The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (T.C.E.I) will join select colleges and universities in terms of providing the necessary resources for potential business owners.
TCEI members will be able to enroll in programs including an Entrepreneurial Development Program, Small Business Boot Camps, Supplier Certification Program, Business Plan Design & Implementation and much more! Instruction for these ongoing programs vary in terms of weeks and are complimented by daily workshops.
In order to close this gap and to train up generations of minority business owners, TCEI, as a new, membership-based business incubator and networking resource center will open its doors in Detroit, in the late Fall/early Winter of 2013. According to the National Business Incubation Association, “For over 50 years, business incubation programs are featuring prominently in an effort to create jobs and to turn around a struggling economy.”
For more information or to support The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, visit www.center4entrepreneurs.org.