Dayton minority biz center open after federal corruption charges

The Greater Dayton Minority Business Assistance Center is open and providing services a week after its director was arrested on federal corruption charges.

On April 30, the Ohio Development Services Agencies sent a message out notifying its business clients that the Dayton minority business assistance center was not available and referred clients to business advisers at the Entrepreneurs Center and other sites.

But Dayton Human Relations Council Executive Director Erica Fields on Monday said the business assistance center is open and clients can visit the council’s downtown offices for services.

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“We are working in conjunction with the Entrepreneurs Center to make sure that we have staff and continue to provide services, because it’s utmost important and a priority of ours to make sure we do that,” she said.

RoShawn Winburn, the program director of the Dayton minority business assistance center, was placed on unpaid administrative leave last week after a federal indictment was unsealed alleging he took bribes in exchange for helping people or companies try to get city contracts and business.

Winburn’s photo and name have been removed from the Human Relations Council’s website, which lists his positions as vacant.

Winburn was selected to be the new business technical assistance administrator earlier this year. He started in that role in April.

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Winburn began serving as the director of the Greater Dayton Minority Business Assistance Center in 2012, according to LinkedIn.

The Human Relations Council has struggled with vacancies, even before Winburn’s legal troubles.

Andrew Chow was the business and technical assistance administrator before Winburn. He started in late 2016, but by earlier this year, he was no longer in the role.

The city did not immediately respond to requests for information about Chow’s employment with the city.

Fields became the executive director of the Human Relations Council earlier this year after serving as interim director since March 2018. Katy Crosby, her predecessor, accepted a job as Toledo’s chief of staff in early 2018.

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Human Relations Council board Chair Sherry Gale declined to comment about Winburn or the minority business assistance center after a Monday afternoon board meeting, the first since the indictments unsealed last week by the FBI.

Three other people were indicted after what officials called a covert, long-term investigation by federal agents into suspected public corruption in the Dayton area. The three others were a former Dayton city commissioner, a former state representative and a local businessman.

Fields declined further comment about who is overseeing and handling the minority business assistance center’s clients and work.

At Monday’s meeting, the board was introduced to Julia Acosta, who started in her role last week as the council’s senior civil rights specialist.

City of Dayton officials did not immediately respond Monday to questions about the minority business assistance center’s work.

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