Wilberforce University signed an agreement Friday with the U.S. Small Business Association that will allow the private historically Black school in Greene County to share resources with the federal agency and create new programs.
Officials with the school and SBA say they believe the new agreement will lead to more small businesses in the Dayton region, thus growing the region’s capital.
The agreement enables Wilberforce students to participate in SBA Columbus District Office’s “Pathways to Entrepreneurship,” in which SBA staff, along with partner mentors and instructors, will provide students with tools and knowledge to start a small business.
Dayton Mayor Jeff Mims said the agreement will help encourage small business creation in the city and the region, helping to bring up the average income in the city.
“You’ll get more and more young people in positions where they can come out here, have degrees, and then move into business opportunities,” Mims said.
Elfred Pinkard, president of Wilberforce University, said building small businesses is a key driver to get Black people out of poverty.
He said Wilberforce students come from communities where they see mom and pop shops growing the community.
“Our students come to us from from environments that one might consider to be in some way socially, or economically deprived and yet they come and they’re saying very intentionally, I want to be an entrepreneur, and I want to be a business person,” Pinkard said. “And we’re here to give them an opportunity to do that, which is why this partnership with SBA is so exciting.”
SBA Great Lakes regional administrator Geri Aglipay said initiatives from President Joe Biden’s administration are working not only to grow small businesses but to increase the money the federal government spends with small businesses on contracting. That’s key for a city that is centered around Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Aglipay said.
Aglipay said the largest number of business applications have been filed the last two years consecutively, more than any other two years in U.S. history.
“This is really riding on that momentum,” she said.
But she also said there has been a decline in entrepreneurship with young adults across the country in the last decade, something the SBA is working to reverse.
Ambrea Hightower, a Wilberforce student, spoke about one of her small businesses, streetwear apparel company 44 Stars. She also runs a makeup service, a mobile bartending service out of her car and a food pantry for students.
“This signing will allow younger students coming in, after me even my fellow peers now, I hope that it allows them to be educated,” Hightower said.
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