Minority-owned businesses in Miami have a new business center with free resources

·3 min read

The federal government’s Minority Business Development Agency is giving nearly $5 million for a Miami-based MBDA Business Center that will be operated by M. Gill & Associates, a Miami consultant firm that has focused on empowering businesses run by people of color and women in South Florida for over 30 years.

The center will offer a short course in business management, which will be taught by instructors from Miami Dade College and will focus on operational efficiencies, financial management and emerging technology like cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, best practices and social media marketing.

After completing the course, minority business owners then have access to free consulting on business development, export market plans and mentorship. They’ll also be advised and mentored by M. Gill & Associates, who say that over the course of 20 years, they’ve helped facilitate contracts for small businesses that amount to billions of dollars. The program launched Tuesday.

Marie Gill, the organization’s founder, says she helps minority-owned businesses gain access to capital, contracts and domestic and international growth through exports. Gill, an immigrant from Jamaica, started her career in Miami working in hotels in Miami Beach before working her way up to corporate roles in the hotel industry. She then took a job with an MBDA-funded firm that was helping minority-owned businesses and then started a firm herself with the same goal.

She says South Florida’s vibrant economy is brimming with opportunity, but many local businesses need help with things like securing loans, grants and contracts and knowing how to export their goods and take advantage of the current market.

“Miami is booming, but we have to empower the businesses that are already here and make sure they don’t get left behind,” she said, citing how they seek to close the digital divide for local businesses, many of which don’t have access to capital or even broadband internet.

The Minority Business Development Agency is a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It has awarded M. Gill & Associates a $4.8 million grant to run the center for five years. The City of Miami is also a partner and is providing the center with free office space, parking and office management.

“As our mayor says, this is turning into the capital of capital,” said William Porro, the city of Miami’s director of human services. “The city is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s actually pretty amazing to see, but we want to still help the businesses, and that’s what Marie and her team do. ... Half the world is moving here and taking residence, so we welcome them, but we want to make this a Miami for everyone.”

Eligibility requirements

Businesses must be at least 51% owned by ethnic minorities and located in South Florida

The course is limited to one participant per business, and the participant must be the owner or a senior executive

Businesses must be registered in the United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

Businesses must have achieved some sales

How and when to apply

Businesses can fill out application to apply at https://form.jotform.com/212435632966056

The deadline to apply for the fall sequence is September 20

There will be a winter sequence starting in January

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