The University of Washington Business and Economic Development Center announced today the receipt of a $600,000 grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. The grant recognizes the center’s positive impact on low-income communities in Washington State and comes with a challenge to expand its programs there, while replicating its model on a national level.
Housed at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, the center was created in the mid-1990s to address the unique business challenges faced by entrepreneurs in low-income, often inner-city communities.
Through a pipeline of educational programs linking students, faculty and corporate partners with minority-owned businesses, the center has built a model for success, helping grow businesses from early post start-ups to multi-million dollar, multi-employee firms. In Washington, the result is more than $90 million in new revenue generated and more than 6,000 jobs created and retained across the state.
The support of the Chase Foundation validates the hard work being done by our staff, students, faculty and business partners,” said Michael Verchot, director of the Business and Economic Development Center. “It also serves as inspiration to broaden our impact in low- and moderate-income communities locally and nationally.”
In 2004, the center’s staff began working with other institutions of higher education to replicate the model. Similar programs are now being offered at Washington State University, the University of Arizona, and Rutgers University. Using the grant monies from the Chase Foundation, the center now plans to extend its reach.
In 2013, the center will launch the Northwest Business School Network to benefit low- and moderate-income communities in Washington and Oregon, and the Network for Economic Development Education and Research with a similar goal on a national level. Part of this plan includes a national conference to take place in Seattle in the summer of 2013, aimed at gathering higher education administrators and educators to discuss best practices and opportunities for job growth in underserved communities.
Another important resource will be available in February 2013: Multicultural Marketing and Business Consulting. Written by Foster professors and center director Verchot, this textbook breaks new ground on how to effectively grow businesses that serve a variety of customers, are owned by people from a broad range of backgrounds, and are inclusive in their employment practices. Fifteen years in the making, the text draws from a wealth of insightful research and hands-on consulting.
“Small business growth is key to economic growth. They are core to job creation and the health of our communities,” said Curt Fraser, Chase Market President, Middle Markets. “This grant is to ensure that small business have access to technical resources and capacity-building tools to strengthen their businesses.”
The center and its supporters will celebrate the award tonight at the 14th Annual UW Minority Business Awards in Seattle.