SEDCO continues to focus on women and minority owned businesses, entrepreneurs
Prior to fiscal 2021, Sherman Economic Development Corp. announced that it will focus on women and minority-owned businesses for local economic development, and ahead of the new year, the company plans to continue to focus on nurturing entrepreneurs and women and minorities. companies owned.
Last month, SEDCO presented the results of its 2020-2021 work program which defined the priority axes for the economic developer of the city over one year. Last year, SEDCO added two focus areas to its regular program that aimed to help women-owned and minority-owned businesses in cities alongside start-ups started by entrepreneurs.
These two areas of intervention are included in the program for the coming year.
“These are the six lenses that we introduced last year, and these remain pretty much the same every year,” said SEDCO President Kent Sharp. “We added one last year for women-owned and minority-owned businesses.”
Both of these programs took their first steps in the past year, but showed limited results when first released. Sharp said SEDCO plans to continue working and looking for ways to support these areas over the coming year.
The focus was on entrepreneurs in the region in the form of the new Raising Innovative Sherman Entrepreneurs program. Through RISE, SEDCO has partnered with Austin College to provide grants to emerging businesses in the region.
“To be competitive in economic development, you have to have a program for young start-ups… that can provide them with capital because Texas is not a state rich in venture capital,” Sharp said in 2020. “In Grayson County, there isn’t a lot of capital. If anyone has an idea here, they probably get support from family members or go to the bank.
The program took the form of a competition where entrepreneurs submitted ideas for their business and projects they would like to support.
The program offered grants ranging from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000, with $ 250,000 available in total for the year.
The idea for the contest came from Sharp, who set up a similar program to Abilene before moving on to Sherman.
However, Sharp said the program saw only two applicants last year. Both applicants were ultimately disqualified as they were not eligible Type A companies that SEDCO can support.
“Retail is not quality. Business does not qualify for that,” Sharp said. “So it’s fair to businesses that would qualify for Type A.”
Sharp said he didn’t know why so few entrepreneurs applied. Ultimately, he said the program may have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty in the market.
Despite the setback, Sharp said organizers are still working on ways to improve it. There are currently three companies planning to apply for the next iteration of RISE, he said.
Regarding the focus on women-owned and minority-owned businesses, Sharp said those efforts were sadly put on hold last year. Instead, the organizers worked on brainstorming and finding ways to help these businesses.
Leaders held the first meeting of a new committee to brainstorm on how to structure the program. Organizers have also started building a database of minority and women-owned businesses in Grayson County.
The work program for the 2021-2022 fiscal year includes the creation of master classes featuring local business leaders speaking on topics related to finance, organization and marketing for such businesses.