Mobile team wins $2.8M to bolster minority-owned businesses

Chamber, University of South Alabama and Innovation Portal team to provide workshops, networking and more for young businesses

The Mobile Chamber’s Eagle Business forum addressed many of the issues that will be aided by the new MobileCAN! program.

Minority owned businesses in the Mobile area will have access to workshops, networking and more through the Mobile Capital Access Network, with the help of a $2.8 million grant from the Minority Business Development Agency.

The program, nicknamed MobileCAN!, is a collaboration among the Mobile Area Chamber Foundation and the Mobile Chamber, the Innovation Portal business incubator and the University of South Alabama.

MobileCAN! aims to provide programs and support services – especially targeting capacity building, access to capital and access to networks — to about 2,200 minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses. 

“The Mobile Area Chamber Foundation recently adopted six strategic community development initiatives and MobileCAN! will springboard many of those initiatives. Our region has a diverse and thriving community of entrepreneurs and this program will provide everyone a fair chance to succeed and prosper in our rapidly growing economy. I am excited to see this grant’s positive impact on all our small businesses and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Mobile Area Chamber Foundation Chairman Frank Lott III.

Laura O’Connor, vice president of community development for the chamber, added, “Small businesses are the backbone of the Mobile Chamber, and this grant represents a crucial investment in their success. The MobileCAN! program is designed to be inclusive and benefit all entrepreneurs in our area.

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The collaboration plans to offer young businesses the economic development and networking expertise of the chamber, the business education expertise of the University of South Alabama and the incubation expertise of Innovation Portal.

“The work of building inclusive entrepreneurship has been at the core of our identity since the launch of Innovation Portal, and I am delighted that the Capital Readiness Program grant allows us to continue to amplify this important work in our community,” said Todd Greer, executive director of the downtown Mobile incubator.

The university will offer its mentoring skills, helping young companies with strategy, marketing and growth plans, added Michael Chambers, who is assistant vice president for research.

Funding for the program comes from the federal Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program.

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