• Congress Should Support MBDA's Role in Enabling the American Dream

    Apr 26, 2017

    We know that job creation and sustainable economic growth flourish with open, inclusive education, markets, and capital formation.  We also know that St. Louis will flourish by attracting entrepreneurs, innovative employers, and talent and by closing the gaps in economic mobility. Unfortunately, President Trump's proposed budget calls for eliminating one of the federal agencies most effective in ensuring inclusive markets and in closing our economic mobility gaps.

    Established in 1969 under President Nixon, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency dedicated to advancing the growth of minority-owned businesses. The agency connects minority-owned businesses with the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow.  There are eight million minority-owned businesses (MBEs) that represent nearly 30 percent of all U.S. firms and contribute $1.4 trillion in economic output.  Despite progress made in the 53 years since the Civil Rights Act, the disparity between minority- and non-minority-owned businesses remains stark. Without the federal programs supported by MBDA, it is difficult for minority-owned firms to fully participate in the free enterprise system that is the basis of our nation's economy.

    St. Louis minority business owners already contribute $10.5 billion to the region's economy. Programs supported by MBDA give these businesses a fair chance to succeed in the marketplace and fully participate in the economic development of the St. Louis region. Continuing to fund MBDA will support employers facing obstacles they may never otherwise breach and maximize their returns in the economy.  We want to ensure that minority-owned businesses have a partner in the federal government to allow them to grow, add jobs, and build our economy.  Without MBDA, we cease to encourage citizens to be active and productive members of our regional and national marketplace.

    Racial and economic impacts need to be factors in policy decision-making.  We urge Congress to fully fund the MBDA and support these effective programs that enable many more of our friends and neighbors a chance to achieve the American Dream.

  • Inaugural “Venture Café Night: No Ceilings”

    Feb 15, 2017

    Venture Café has increased St. Louis’ opportunity for serendipitous connections by expanding their regular Thursday night events at Cortex’s @4240 to two additional Venture Café Nights a month: “Venture Café Night: No Ceilings” and “Venture Café Night: 39 North.”  “Venture Café Night: No Ceilings” takes place at LaunchCode’s Mentor Center on the second Tuesday each month; meanwhile, “Venture Café Night: 39 North” takes place at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center on the third Tuesday each month.

    The inaugural “Venture Café Night: No Ceilings” took place on Tuesday, February 14th.  On that Valentines’ Day evening, a group gathered to learn about and discuss how innovation is applied to civic and social issues in the region. The host facility, LaunchCode’s Mentor Center, is dedicated to equity, access, and diversity in technology so it is natural fit to host the event.

    In addition to the workshops, attendees mingled and enjoying free pizza and drinks. The number listed on attendees’ name tags, indicating the number Venture Café sessions attended, ranged from 1 to 100+. Conversations covered topics in minority business development and the status of social accelerators and entrepreneurship in St. Louis.

    While St. Louis is rich with talent and resources, it is apparent that race and socioeconomic status still act as barriers to access the networks needed to create and scale a business.  Venture Café Night: No Ceilings continues the conversations and promotes the connections needed for a wholly-inclusive innovation community.

    In case you missed it, here was the evening’s lineup:

    4:00-5:00 pm- Overcoming Challenges in Entreprenuership│Johego

    5:00- 5:30 pm- Maximizing your Venture Café Experience │Ven Caf Volunteers

    5:00- 6:00 pm- Economic Solutions for Urban America │ Ferguson1000

    6:00- 7:00 pm- Social Accelerators for STL │ Kaufman Chair of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship │ Brown School

    6:30- 7:30 pm- Getting More St. Louisians to Care About Voting │YOUTurnSTL Project