At their February 2021 meeting, and as described in the City's DEI Work Plan (PDF), the City Council directed City staff to engage the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce in a leadership role in researching and developing options for supporting financial empowerment and business education initiatives for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs.
The Chamber continues to work closely with a number of organizations to expand opportunities to the entire business community, with a targeted focus on those BIPOC-owned and managed businesses that are seeking additional resources to develop and grow their business. Here are some ongoing updates on that work:
- The Chamber continues its ongoing partnership with SCORE.org, a long-standing organization affiliated with the Small Business Association that offers “free business mentoring, low-cost or no-cost business training, and numerous templates and tools” to help entrepreneurs start or grow a business, with 10,000 advisors, nationwide. Clients are matched with business experts, most of whom are retired business professionals who advise on marketing, accounting, operations, sales, and HR issues. The target audience is businesses and nonprofits.
- The Chamber worked with SCORE on a pilot networking exercise with our Board of Directors as a test-run of a facilitated BIPOC business owner/manager roundtable, allowing attendees to connect and identify ways to work together and support each other. The Chamber is using those pilots to develop mentoring sessions that provide BIPOC business owners with a wide range of resources based on needs.
- In recognition of the fact that the incredible display of innovation over the past 19 months of the pandemic will likely have to continue long into the future because of myriad, macro-level disruptions (see: supply chain, staffing just to name a few), the Chamber is leveraging the resources of SCORE and others to vastly expand our menu of webinars. These free events, open to all, are helping businesses and nonprofits learn and grow your business. The Chamber is co-hosting webinars throughout the COVID-19 crisis and are expanding the subject area to include Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Business and The Potentially Lucrative World of Government Contracting. These events are all free. They are available to anyone, with a particular outreach to our BIPOC business owners and nonprofit directors, including the owners of businesses and nonprofits in Marin City, who receive complimentary Mill Valley Chamber memberships as the Chamber continues to assist Mill Valley’s efforts to be a help promote, inform, celebrate and advocate for Marin City businesses and nonprofits, no strings attached.
- The Chamber continues to expand its partnership with Marin Small Business Development Center (MarinSBDC). The Chamber already works closely with the MarinSBDC, co-sponsoring ongoing Educational Webinars on key business topics (pre-COVID) and promoting their business relief-related webinars and training throughout the COVID-19 crisis and much more. Marin SBDC has 15 “expert advisors” on their team willing to provide individual business development counseling. The Chamber will continue to direct BIPOC businesses with financing, educational and business development needs towards MarinSBDC training and resources and one-on-one support when appropriate.
- As mentioned above, the Chamber extended for another year free memberships to any Marin City nonprofit organization who wanted access to our resources, particularly the power of our promotional, educational, and informational, platforms as well as our ability to connect those nonprofits with colleagues in Mill Valley for potential collaboration.
- The inclusion of our Marin City neighbor nonprofits allowed the Chamber to include them in the recently approved extension of another one of the Marin Council of Chambers’ BIPOC-oriented initiatives, the Marin Independent Journal- and Marin Community Foundation-led WeAreOneMarin.com campaign, which showcases and promotes one Marin BIPOC business every week.