The Greenville Chamber reported on the first year of its diversity initiative and laid out specifics of a new business accelerator last week.
Since its launch a year ago, the initiative has aimed to make diversity and inclusion integral to all aspects of the Chamber’s operations. Nika White, vice president of diversity and inclusion for the Chamber, maintains that it must be more than a stand-alone program in order to be effective. White cited a greater need for corporate participation in areas such as hosting events and pitching educational sessions.
The initiative’s full title is “CAPACITY: Economic Development Through Diversity Inclusion,” and it includes about a dozen programs aimed at changing the Chamber’s internal culture and the larger business landscape simultaneously. For example, companies such as Blood Connection and Piedmont Natural Gas have committed to increasing and tracking supplier diversity through the Goal Setters program, White told attendees.
The bulk of the report was given over to detailed discussion of the Chamber’s first Minority Business Accelerator (MBA), for which 12 companies were undergoing the final vetting and approval process. The program is modeled after similar ones in Charlotte and Cincinnati, and will be managed in partnership with NuLevel Solutions of Charlotte, a data analytics and strategic planning firm. NuLevel consulted on the Charlotte program.
The program is targeted at high-potential companies in the $100,000 to $4.9 million and $5 million and above ranges. Other tangential opportunities will also be created for companies not yet in that range. Between 90 and 95 percent are headquartered in Greenville and all do business in Greenville County.
David Willis, principal at NuLevel, emphasized that the MBA would evolve as it progressed.
“Whatever we say today about what it is, a year from now it’s probably going to be a little different, but better,” Willis said.