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SBA partners with Utah Black Chamber to help boost businesses

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Bipartisan cooperation may be winding down, a shame for average consumers who may lack the financial savvy to recognize when business practices would take unfair advantage of them.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah entrepreneurs will have access to more information to help grow their enterprises under a new agreement with the federal Small Business Administration.

The district office of the U.S. SBA and the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce Friday entered into a partnership aimed at bolstering opportunities for success of hundreds of Utah small businesses. The two entities signed a strategic alliance memorandum to enhance integration of their respective resources, said Marla Trollan, director of the Utah SBA district office.

The arrangement leverages existing programs extended to African American and other minorities, along with veterans and women-owned small businesses statewide, she added.

”Partnering with the Utah Black Chamber will offer the African American and black community more efficient access to the mentors, training, tools and networking that will help them achieve their long-term entrepreneurial goals,” Trollan said. “Creating partnerships is one of our primary goals throughout the agency. We can’t do what we need to do and reach the communities we need to reach without establishing partnerships.”

She said tools like the memorandum agreement help the agency work with partners at a high level and also enable them to co-brand and co-market services and products to reach a broader community audience. She noted that similar agreements have been reached with other local minority chambers and business organizations as well.

“Our goal is to reach all of these minority-serving communities throughout all of Utah — really getting out to the communities and the rural communities as well,” Trollan said. Over 90% of businesses in the Beehive State are considered small businesses, she noted, with the SBA contributing $1 billion annually to aid in the promotion of small enterprise development.

Before the memo signing, the SBA facilitated a training on becoming certified for federal government contracting during the chamber’s monthly Salt Lake Small Business Breakfast Series. Utah Black Chamber founder James Jackson III said the agreement is an effort at making a more intentional focus on educating black entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community.

“This (memorandum) basically displays the platform that we have pretty much everything you need, especially since Utah is like the number one state for small businesses,” he said. “We have everything that you need as a new owner or seasoned owner to come in and get the education resources you need to continue to grow.”

He said there are currently hundreds of African American-owned businesses throughout Utah, along with many other minority-owned enterprises that can use information to help them prosper.

“All these other organizations and chambers out there are waiting for organizations like ours to really shine a light on all these minority-owned businesses in the community because if diversity is elevated, Utah overall is elevated,” Jackson said.

Linked by a common mission, both organizations provide business training, expanded access to capital, technical support, paths to procurement opportunities, networking and information sharing; all with the goal of strengthening small businesses within shared communities, a news release stated.

“We believe that our coordinated efforts will provide significant results for those who are starting and growing small businesses in the black small business community and we are very excited about this new partnership,” she said.

Entrepreneur Amira Shea attended the informational event hoping to learn about minority certification for federal contracts and supplier diversity. A retired U.S. Air Force veteran, she said taking advantage of free resources and training is how she hopes to expand her professional writing services firm.

“The more education the more resources that you can avail yourself of — the better, no matter what your field is,” she said. “No matter whether you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re an office worker, whether you’re working for someone else, it’s important to seek out resources and seek out help.”

She said learning more skills through training events and gaining more knowledge about how to plan properly gives small businesses a better chance to prosper in the long run.

“Three to five years is our goal. The other thing that we have, we just started applying for government contracts and state contracts, so that is one arena — starting in 2020 — that we’re really focusing on trying to get more (government) procurement (contracts),” Shea said.