Area business leaders to use directory to highlight minority-owned businesses

·2 min read

Aug. 30—The Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership is launching a new directory to highlight minority-owned businesses in the Flint Hills.

GMEP, a division of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation, plans to launch the directory this fall, covering Riley, Pottawatomie, Geary and Wabaunsee counties.

Officials said the directory is a "foundational step to fostering an inclusive business community and create more economic opportunities by bridging the equity gap in the Flint Hills region."

Minority entrepreneurs can fill out an online form on the GMEP website at at no cost.

The site also will point small businesses to local resources like those provided by the Washburn Small Business Development Center, Manhattan Economic Development, SPARK, The Office of Minority and Women Business Development, local resources including loan and grant opportunities, free business coaching, and help to navigate local zoning laws. The Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce also has an option for members to identify themselves as women/minority owned and/or veteran owned, which can be queried on the organization's member directory.

"We have a lot of great minority-owned businesses in our region," Jason Smith, President of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement. "This directory will create additional exposure to help these businesses grow and overall contributes to an inclusive and successful business community for all."

Sheila Ellis-Glasper, president and founder of The Black Entrepreneurs of the Flint Hills, said in a written statement that the directory is the first step to addressing "revenue gaps" business owners of color experience in the Flint Hills.

"Our local minority-owned businesses provide a plethora of services and products in the Flint Hills including leadership, diversity and business consulting, marketing, photography, videography, multicultural cuisine offerings, multicultural hair care, childcare, home inspections, insurance, apparel and more," said Ellis-Glasper, who owns of SEG Media Collective. "Our businesses can be overlooked due to language and cultural barriers and limited access to capital for marketing and advertising efforts."

The directory will be available on the Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership and Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce websites with plans for various community partners to promote it.

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