The future of entrepreneurship in America will include many more people of color than in the past, as recent data shows. The city of Memphis is making the most of the trend. It is working to accelerate the growth of minority-owned businesses in a flagship program that could potentially become a model for other cities to emulate in their economic development programs
Under the leadership of Mayor Jim Strickland, The 800 Initiative, launched in May 2018, has set a goal of growing the revenue of 800 minority-owned businesses with paid employees that the city has identified by $50 million by 2023.
The program is offering business coaching, technical assistance, education and access to loans and grants to help the businesses scale. The program also aims to help 200 minority-owned businesses without paid employees to grow their revenue into the six figures and start hiring employees.
The 800 Initiative, hosted by the city’s Office of Diversity and Compliance, is funded in part by a $500,000 allocation in the city’s 2018-2019 budget, and a $1 million commitment over four years by FedEx.