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US Bank provides grant to advance Springfield Entrepreneurship, Networking & Diversity

A $50,000 grant made possible by US Bank Foundation, provided ten BIPOC business owners a grant to expand their business in Center City Springfield. by UniteNews Staff

Springfield, MO (UniteNews)—The Downtown Springfield Association (DSA), Multicultural Business Association (MBA), Missouri SBDC at MSU and efactory partnered with U.S. Bank to provide support for (BIPOC) small business development. BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Through a new initiative called ASCEND – Advancing Springfield’s Commitment to Entrepreneurship, Networking & Diversity, the program provides grant awards to support small business creation and growth among BIPOC business owners in downtown Springfield, Missouri.
A $50,000 grant made possible by US Bank Foundation, provided ten BIPOC business owners a grant to expand their business in Center City Springfield. Grants were awarded by working with the identified needs of the new business and in conjunction with existing resources from the Springfield Finance & Development Corporation, City of Springfield, efactory, Missouri SBDC at MSU and other community organizations.
There were a total of eight black business owners among the ten recipients. The most recent recipients were:
The Cut is owned by Charlten Henderson, who has been a licensed barber for four years and holds a master’s degree in counseling from MSU.  He notes the barbershop in the Black community has historically been a safe, nonjudgmental space for men to talk about anything—sports, politics, religion, women, manhood. He wants to use his position to disrupt the flow of conversation. Men are taught to be stoic and strong at all times. Rather than using time to fill the space with chatter, why not use it to promote self-care practices as a part of being mentally healthy? Charlten plans to use the ASCEND funds to learn new services, such as cranial prosthesis and how to rid males of Keloidalis Nuchae.
Lashes by Aja is owned by Aja Starks. She started her business not only because she enjoys making a difference in people’s lives through their self-confidence, but also to provide a better life for her three boys. She plans to use the ASCEND grant to buy 3-4 lash beds as well as the other materials needed for the lash techs to use. A long-term goal is to purchase a building for her business.
Crystal Campbell plans to open a new sneaker and apparel store. A native of Chicago, she and her children consider themselves “sneakerheads”. She has identified a shortage of exclusive sneakers and apparel in Springfield, and she wants to eliminate the need to travel and shop internationally for the latest releases. The ASCEND grant will allow her to put her plans into motion and jump start her first small business loan.
Grant recipients chosen to receive the $5,000 award committed to the following milestones for engagement:
• Meet with representatives from US Bank and City of Springfield Loan Officer to explore financing options.
• Complete one training program through the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at MSU and efactory to strengthen the owner’s professional development (offered at no-charge to the award recipient).
• Engage in one-on-one assistance provided at no-charge with the Missouri SBDC at MSU.
• Attend one Multicultural Business Association meeting to interact with minority business owners and advocates.
• Meet with DSA Communications Manager to learn about leveraging Downtown communications.
• Attend one DSA Mixer to connect with fellow Downtown business owners and stakeholders.

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