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Accelerator Program At Duquesne University To Focus On Minority Entrepreneurs

From 1990 to 2012, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America tripled from 577,000 to more than 2.0 million, and to address the growing population a new accelerator program at Duquesne University will focus on minority entrepreneurs.  

“Really what an accelerator means is that, you’re going to intervene and offer services that are really going to… accelerate the growth of that business, beyond what they might be able to do alone,” said SBDC Director Mary McKinney.

The grant was awarded to the University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which on average works with 500 local businesses each year. The grant will help develop the Neo Lab: Fast Track to Inclusiveness, which will focus on Hispanic minorities, who have plans to open a business soon or opened a business in the past three years.

“We’re going to try to work with about 5-6 businesses, there will be a screening process. We want to talk with the business, insure that indeed they have an idea that’s feasible to create into a business and grow,” said SBDC Director Mary McKinney.

The grant requires 50-60% of the businesses to be technology based.

McKinney says they will consider applications from all minorities, but she says there is a strong need for Hispanic entrepreneurial aid because it is the fastest growing population in southwestern Pennsylvania. The SBDC has experienced the need in the community first hand by holding a class on opening a business in Pittsburgh taught in Spanish that attracts 20-30 people quarterly.

“These kinds of businesses, particularly Hispanic businesses, and particularly when they’re immigrants, have to get down to a lot of basics that are generally maybe assumed to be known when you being counseling a business person. For instance: our entire legal system,” said McKinney.

The SBDC will work one on one with the selected businesses. Screening will begin in late October/early November and McKinney says by Christmas they should be working with the chosen businesses. 

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.