Dayton Named Top 10 Best Metros for Minority-Owned Businesses

Dayton Named Top 10 Best Metros for Minority-Owned Businesses Main Photo

2 Apr 2021


Dayton was named one of the “Top 10 Best Metros for Minority-Owned Businesses'' due to high marks for eight criteria: number of minority-owned businesses, business sales by minority-owned firms, immigrant share of population, racial equity index rank, revenue growth for firms owned by people of color, prosperity score, inclusion score, and diversity index. In total, fifty mid-size metro areas across the U.S. with populations of one million or less were examined. The full rankings, methodology, and spotlight of Dayton’s own Dr, Karen Townsend, professional coach and the president of KTownsend Counseling, can be found here.

In her interview, Dr. Townsend named the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce with its Minority Business Partnership (MBP) program as excellent resources for her.

To get more of the story about MBP — the economic development initiative which seeks to help grow the economy and strengthen area business by leveraging the Dayton region’s minority assets — we turned to Belinda Matthews Stenson, MBP Director.

Can you speak to the importance of the Minority Business Partnership?  

Stenson: The Minority Business Partnership has been in the region since 2006 and joined the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce in 2010. MBP’s origin is deeply-rooted in a regional supplier diversity model and we’ve used that framework to provide so many more services for minority and women-owned businesses. We understand that all businesses — not just-minority-owned businesses — need access to capital, access to customers, and access to coaching and consulting. We provide services in all three areas through Bankers Roundtable, grants assistance, supply chain connections, technical assistance and boot camps, and business coaching.  

The pandemic forced us to pivot in the way we worked with businesses and to support them in a very different manner. We spent most of the year connecting our businesses to resources and funding to keep their doors open. 

We are optimistically hopeful for great things in 2021 and this next decade. We are really excited about our newest initiative which will be officially announced and launched in the next couple of weeks! This project will be national in scope and connect minority and women-owned businesses to resources that are not well-known to Black, LatinX and women business owners. Our goal is to increase the awareness and equip our companies with the tools to be successful and this program will accelerate that goal in a significant way. More to come very soon!  

How would you correlate Dayton's downtown revival with it being named a top-ten metro for minority-owned businesses?  

Stenson: Yes, the downtown surge of minority retailers is definitely a driver. I believe there is a strong connection to the revitalization in Downtown Dayton that has a positive impact on the ranking. But we are also seeing more business start-ups and scale-ups in other parts of the city too which is very promising. One example is the Entrepreneurs Marketplace in Wright Dunbar which has provided a location for businesses to sell their products and has created a vibrant retail pop-up shopping experience.   

What do you think could help more minorities become business owners?  

Belinda StensonStenson: When I started at the Chamber nine years ago, there were only a handful of resources targeted to support minority-owned businesses. Fast forward to today, we have so many more business resources located in our region with a very intentional desire to support minority-owned businesses. 

We need to do more than just get businesses started, we need to support them throughout their journey. Our challenge today is to get clarity around the services and resources that our business owners need to start and accelerate the growth of their businesses. 

We have to be better at listening to and understanding the “voice of our businesses.” We need to have more conversations in the community about entrepreneurship opportunities and challenges — where are the gaps, what do minority-owned businesses need to get started and to grow? Minority-owned businesses are not monolithic and the needs vary based on their business stage, industry, and so many other factors. One size does not fit all and I want to make sure we don’t confuse the various business needs with a “one size fits all” model.  

Are there any business strategies to help businesses recover from the pandemic that you are particularly energized about?

Stenson: Today, our region has more resources than a decade ago to support individuals interested in starting and growing their business. What excites me is the energy and innovation that’s taking place today! I am thrilled about several projects in our region that are “out of the box” strategies that will help small businesses bounce back from the pandemic:

  • The soon-to-open Greater West Dayton Incubator, led by the University of Dayton, which will provide resources and support for West Dayton community-based businesses! Located in the community for the community! 
  • Ohio Gateway Tech Fund which was very intentional about including a target for funding minority businesses in their grant application! Today, we race to Cleveland, Cincinnati, and all over the Midwest looking for venture funding targeted for minority-owned businesses. This new $10 million fund will provide much needed venture funding right here in our own backyard.   
  • Initiatives to strengthen relationships between minority-owned businesses and financial institutions. The initial Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a nightmare for many of our smaller minority-owned businesses. We have to do more to navigate and connect our minority-owned businesses with our financial institutions.   
  • Efforts like the Montgomery County CARES Act Small Business Grant program which was intentional about the outreach and support for minority-owned, women-owned, and microenterprise businesses. It provided a great opportunity for funding for many of our companies that were not able to secure the PPP or other COVID-related funding.  

Are we there yet? Absolutely not. There is so much more that needs to be refined, tweaked, eliminated and/or created. I think we have a strong alliance of business resource partners ready to support the launch and growth of minority businesses.

Most importantly, we have really savvy business owners that are ready to take their enterprises to the next level!  2021 is our year to “think outside of the box,” “push the envelope,” and “color outside the lines” — we’re Dayton Strong!   


To be connected to resources, contact the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce today at (937) 226-1444 or Visit for more information on initiatives and grants. Follow Montgomery County on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.