KANSAS CITY, MO — The Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City launches Stronger Together KC, a two-pronged economic development initiative that provides vital resources to black-owned businesses in under-resourced communities and educational opportunities for K–12 students to compete for quality, high-demand careers in technology.
This Thursday, three business owners selected to participate in Stronger Together KC’s Close the Gap business incubator will be announced at a luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the law offices of Polsinelli, 900 W. 48th St., the event’s sponsor. In addition, three Kansas City Public Schools students who earned internships through Stronger Together KC’s Cyber to Schools program will be on hand to share their experiences in the program.
Media are invited to attend or can join virtually. RSVP at http://evite.me/V1BTWwfymG.
The Close the Gap initiative provides emerging small business owners with professional services and mentorship by leveraging a partner network of community members, organizations, businesses and educational institutions. Participants will gain access to services that support needs that are critical to their long-term viability, including business plan development, legal advice, risk mitigation, human resources competency, succession planning and wealth management.
“Close the Gap participants will gain the tools, professional services and education to help them grow their operations, generate wealth in their communities and become legacy businesses,” said Black Chamber President Kelvin Perry. “Stronger Together KC allows us to ladder up our commitment to sustaining black-owned businesses, while exposing young people to lucrative certificated careers that allow them to stack credentials and advance their skills and earning potential.”
During the pandemic, black-owned businesses were more adversely affected by shutdowns but the least likely to access PPP loans. The first three entrepreneurs in the program are graduates of G.I.F.T. (Generating Income For Tomorrow), a nonprofit that provides grants and technical assistance to black-owned businesses with a focus on low-income areas.
“The advanced level of support and access to resources they’ll receive through Stronger Together KC’s Close the Gap program are critically important to their recovery and future growth,” said Brandon Calloway, executive director, G.I.F.T.
The Cyber to Schools program is made possible through the Black Chamber’s collaboration with Siemens Smart Infrastructure and California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo. It focuses on upskilling underserved middle and high school populations in digital literacy and professional certifications, including Amazon Web Services, Splunk, Cisco and NVIDIA. During summer 2021, more than 700 KCPS students participated in the program. Three of those students earned a paid internship funded by McCownGordon Construction to establish a Cyber Club at their schools and to help prepare for next year’s summer program.
“Kansas City’s economic opportunity is abundant and technical skilled job demand is through the roof. Our Cyber to Schools program drives workforce development starting in middle and high schools to equip local talent to meet industry demand,” said Martin Minnich, program manager for Cal Poly’s California Cybersecurity Institute. “Grow local and stay local. This program is designed to empower Kansas City toward economic prosperity.”
About Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City
The Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, Inc. is a Missouri 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that was incorporated on May 13, 1985. The Black Chamber was conceived and started in late 1984 by fourteen (14) local Black business owners as a vehicle through which to promote, sustain, and maintain economic progress for Black-owned enterprises in the metropolitan area. By design, the Chamber is an action and advocacy organization with the primary focus of meeting the needs of the Black business community and ensuring the participation of such businesses in the overall business and economic development plans of the greater Kansas City area. Learn more about the Black Chamber of Commerce: http://bccgkc.org.
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