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Minority Business Panel Addresses Relevant Concerns

By Tricia Hall
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter

Dozens of local business owners and entrepreneurs attended the Ohio Minority Business Panel on Friday, November 1, 2019 at Mott Branch Library. The panel was co-hosted by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and the Toledo Lucas County Library.

The panel included Linda Fayerweather, Toledo Lucas County Public Library specialist librarian of Business and Workforce Department; Olivia Holden, executive director of ASSETS Toledo; Lisa Washington, Northwest Ohio Regional Outreach Manager of Ohio Department of Transportation; Lenora McIntyre, operations manager of Ohio Minority Business Assistance Centers; Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State and facilitator Monique Cox-Moore, director of Community Engagement and Initiatives for Ohio Secretary of State.

Attendees were encouraged to submit questions to the panel directly or ask questions during the two networking sessions. LaRosa explained the rationale for organizing these panels in Ohio. “At these roundtables, connections can be made in the room. There are community leaders doing the work here. Our office now has a list that we provide to those who want to start businesses. I also encourage you to get to know your state representatives, they should be accessible because they represent you.”

There was a question submitted that focused on nonprofits and available resources. “LISC and Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development are just two agencies that come to mind. These agencies support nonprofits. I encourage you to research opportunity zones, upcoming trends, and compose ideas that agencies are interested in developing,” said Washington.

Current business owners asked questions about cross certification across multiple government offices, re-certification requirements, and minority business enterprise certification.

“You are correct cross re-certification does not exist, because these programs and departments may operate in silos. You shouldn’t have to waste time on bureaucracy, instead of growing your business. Unfortunately, government does not communicate well, and I understand your frustration with filling out form after form that’s requesting the same information. We must fix this, which is why we’re convening these panels. This is a complex issue, but we must do it. Our website has improved over the past few years and there is a customer service hotline. The talented individuals that answer the phones are great at answering questions quickly. The purpose of the Ohio’s Minority Business Enterprise program is to uplift our minority business owners and address challenges like preventing fraud,” said LaRose.

The Minority Business panel has completed three additional panels in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati before Toledo. There are additional panels planned in other cities. “I want to thank the library for their partnership. My goal following this panel is to make sure that we’re busy, and that interested minority businesses complete their applications. We can’t solve every problem today, but we know there is work to do. I am here to learn and admire the entrepreneur spirit,” explained LaRose during closing remarks.




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/07/19 10:34:02 -0500.

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