For the Greater Louisville region to prosper, economic opportunity must be available for all people. Expanding inclusivity and working to overcome implicit and explicit bias will require deep exploration of how racism has impacted and continues to impact our region, as well as intentional and meaningful action to ensure prosperity for disinvested communities. Eliminating racism and promoting connectivity, diversity, and inclusion are necessary steps toward improving Greater Louisville. Initiatives implemented must be rooted in identifying solutions that support educational, and economic initiatives affecting marginalized communities, and they must include a focus on intentionality to ensure they succeed. Inclusion is the foundation for the work that Greater Louisville Inc. does, and three flagship initiatives are paving the way for Greater Louisville to significantly advance equality and raise up previously marginalized talent.
Business Council to End Racism
In the summer of 2020, GLI launched a bold platform to uncover the inequities within the city and region: The Business Councilto End Racism (BCER). This initiative consists of business and community leaders from our 15-county bi-state region and is led by a group of diverse volunteers with subject-matter expertise and professional experience in their respective fields. Initiatives identified to date include efforts dedicated to building a strong sense of belonging among diverse communities within Greater Louisville and developing dedicated talent strategies and business advancement opportunities for diverse individuals.
The BCER is Divided Into Five Workstreams:
- Criminal Justice Reform & Law Enforcement
- Workforce Development & Barriers
- Access to Health Care
These workstreams will help inform the ongoing policy work of GLI and help ensure a focus of racial equity is provided as it relates to these five focus areas.
Minority Business Accelerator
To further our commitment to inclusion in Greater Louisville, GLI has developed a Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) to assess, guide, and aid minority-owned businesses to help scale operations, reach new customers, and maximize their potential.
GLI is actively recruiting Strategic Partners and providers with the resources to contribute their experience and expertise to help underrepresented small businesses, identified as Priority Firms, develop and expand in the region.
MBA Resources Provided Will Include:
- Strategic Introductions for Contracting Purposes
- Educational and Networking Opportunities
- Finance & Capital Access
- Business Development Tools & Support
- Access to Professional Services & Support (Provided Through Discounted/Sponsored Resources to Cover Expenses Relating to Accounting, HR, Marketing, Legal Work, etc.)
- Mentorship Facilitation
The MBA will include making connections with small business resources for technical assistance in partnership with the Small Business Association (SBA) in addition to a mentorship program.
Strategic connections between Priority Firms and Strategic Partners are underway upon request and GLI has begun making proactive outreach and marketing to Priority Firms. The ultimate goal is to increase annual sales for existing Priority Firms, increase the num- ber of Priority Firms in Greater Louisville, and increased job creation for the region.
GLI will target businesses beyond idea development/initial business planning stage, less than $500K in annual revenue but not exceeding $5M in annual revenue. Efforts will be focused on assisting these early stage companies and referring the later stage, higher revenue companies to other business development providers in the region (i.e. SBDC, Nimbus, Amplify, other incubators and accelerator efforts).
Career Acceleration Network
The Career Acceleration Network (CAN) is a collective of employers investing in strategic partnerships to build career pathways from entry-level positions to high-skilled careers that lead to family-supporting wages. This network is comprised of employers, community-based workforce partners, and education providers working together to create defined and attainable career pathways.
Within the CAN model, employers with a significant number of low-skill positions will partner with other employers and education partners to offer clearly defined pathways for advancement. For example, a shipping warehouse may develop a relationship with a healthcare company and training providers so that employees who work in a pick and pack position can be trained and transitioned from the shipping company to the healthcare company where a patient care, data analytics or marketing position may await them.
The CAN pilot program is currently in development and will focus its efforts on improving wage disparity and closing the skill gap among residents in West Louisville communities and among disproportionately affected youth. CAN is strategically positioned to create clear advancement trajectories for overlooked talent, creating more diversified talent pipelines. Participating employers will also see increased retention and decreased turnover. This network allows for the promotion of viable careers in high-need industries and assists low wage workers displaced by COVID-19 as they build critical skills and increase their earning potential.
Inclusion Resources Needed for Success:
This important work will require additional GLI staff to ensure success. The fol- lowing positions have been identified as necessary to support the CAN, BCER, and MBA initiatives.
- This position will lead the development and implementation of GLI’s DE&I initiatives that align with NOW Louisville. The Director will strategically guide the Chamber’s Business Council to End Racism and collaborate with regional stakeholders.
Manager, D&I Strategies
- This position will provide direct business support to underrepresented-owned enterprises and serve as the main project manager of GLI’s Minority Business Accelerator.
Manager, Career Acceleration Network Programs
- This position will support the development of the network and coordination among all stakeholders.
Success Navigator, Career Acceleration Network
- This position will support CAN participants with wrap around services and career exploration assistance to ensure successful program advancement.
Employer Training & Education Fund
- This fund will be used to assist employers with costs associated to develop training and education programs.
Participant Resources Fund
- This fund will be available to participants who face initial barriers to participation such as but not limited to computer access for their training, internet connectivity, and transportation.