The Cincinnati USA Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator
(MBA) celebrated a milestone in June, when it recognized local firm Global Novations
as its inaugural Accelerator Emeritus. While the award recognized the talent and market optimization firm's significant growth - it has gone through an acquisition, a merger that enhanced its global reach and has earned investment from major financial backers - it also marks a coming-of-age moment for the MBA, which grew out of a 2001 charge to help minority-owned businesses grow, thrive and succeed.
"We've been rocking and rolling" since 2004, says Crystal German, vice president of the MBA and economic inclusion. She explains that the MBA has two focuses: it works directly with minority-owned businesses doing $1 million or more in business, and works with corporations, ranging from Procter & Gamble and Kroger to the Cincinnati Reds, to promote, measure and improve diversity efforts.
The MBA has grown in scope and reach since its launch, and now includes 36 businesses and 26 corporations in its portfolio. The Accelerator Emeritus award, German says, is intended to honor participants whose growth exemplifies the program's goal of helping businesses compete in the regional and global marketplace.
"It is primarily intended to recognize firms in our portfolio who really represent financial indicators of success," she says, explaining that Global Novations' major business moves stand as a model for other businesses in the program.
"These are things we hope our minority-owned firms see as part of their strategic plans," she says.
Global Novations Managing Partner Janet Reid says the commendation is a significant honor.
"We feel grateful to have received it," she says. "The philosophy [in the MBA] is to create emeritus members. The fact we were one of the first to get in and one of the first to get out is a testament to the quality of support they provide for businesses."
Chris Kemper, the chamber's director of public relations, says the award also marks a new chapter in the MBA's life.
"We've been pretty focused on building the portfolio companies," he says. "Now that one has gone to emeritus status, it changes things. It's a good sign. It shows maturity in our portfolio."
German says the commendation comes with a charge of its own: to carry on the MBA's tradition of helping fellow portfolio businesses, as well as other minority-owned businesses in the region.
"That's always been part of the relationship," she says, referring to both informal mentoring among companies and a specific charge to engage other minority owned businesses and enhance workplace diversity.
Reid says Global Novations is happy to take on the charge.
"The relationship we have with [MBA participant] businesses is tremendous," she says. "There's a level of frankness..you're all talking about the same thing, which is how to grow our businesses."
German adds that the Accelerator Emeritus award won't be an annual event. It will be given out as companies in the MBA's portfolio reach points of distinction and success that mirror that of Global Novations. But with its average portfolio company revenue growing from under $7 million to more than $20 million, there may not be a long gap before another MBA member earns the high status.By Matt Cunningham
Follow Matt on Twitter @cunningcontent