Akron Urban League’s MCCAP program lifts minority-owned construction firms
Even many profitable enterprise individuals have dangerous recollections from the start of their profession and monetary life – they utilized for coveted first jobs solely to be instructed they wanted expertise first, or had been denied a mortgage as a result of they hadn’t had one earlier than .
How, many have questioned, does an individual acquire expertise or construct credit score if nobody hires them or provides them preliminary credit score?
Minority contractors, a lot of whom begin their companies after working for different corporations and mastering their craft, say they typically really feel the identical method.
They are instructed that contracts are too large for them as a result of they’ve by no means carried out equally massive jobs. They work with bootstraps as a result of it is typically tough to get the primary mortgage if their enterprise would not have a credit score historical past or observe document with a lender.
Join the Akron Urban League and MCCAP.
MCCAP stands for Minority Contractor Capital Access Program, and whereas it undoubtedly helps small minority contractors entry capital, it does excess of that.
“Our goal is for them to thrive and grow their business — we give them the tools to do that,” stated Gail Wilson, Urban League director for the biennial MCCAP initiative.
This consists of, she stated, technical help with advertising, accounting and authorized recommendation from native professionals. They work with the program to make sure attendees have and might use issues like QuickBooks; are capable of correctly assessment and absolutely perceive contracts and different authorized paperwork; and know methods to goal their advertising and get their identify on the market successfully and cheaply.
The program even provides a brand new laptop computer working QuickBooks and a brand new cellular phone to make sure individuals can talk successfully with co-workers, clients and others.
Coaching and mentoring is obtainable, typically by skilled contractors, some who’ve retired and others who’re on the lookout for new subcontractors.
“We’re trying to give them everything they need and make all of those things available to them,” stated Wilson, to whom individuals and volunteers alike credit score the program for not solely surviving the pandemic, however with the ability to was to finish its first cohort of native enterprise house owners and be capable to broaden over the subsequent 12 months.
The program additionally works to seek out enterprise alternatives for individuals by connecting them with native common contractors and bigger construction corporations who come to fulfill with individuals.
It works too, confirms Wilson – and is gaining momentum.
In March, Wilson was happy to report that the program has helped enrollers earn greater than $2 million in new contract income over the program’s first two years. On Thursday, December 1, she stated the quantity now stands at $4.1 million, with the final roughly $2 million coming in nearly six months in the past.
Participants credit score the program with serving to them perceive contracts, handle their books, get new enterprise and, maybe most significantly, entry financing. The MCCAP program, which is supported by the City of Akron and Summit County together with the Urban League, works with the County Development Finance Agency’s Western Reserve Fund to supply traces of credit score to MCCAP individuals. It’s a godsend and a lifeline, say some on the program.
“I’m a small builder, so I don’t have a lot of capital,” stated Rodney Griggs, proprietor of Kingdom Construction and Builders in Akron.
Griggs, who describes himself as “the poster boy for MCCAP,” stated he realized that what he obtained out of the program can be the results of what he put into it. So he tried to make use of each service and supply of assist the program made obtainable, he stated, from accessing “every ounce” of credit score line obtainable by means of the DFA to assembly with each advisor he may , and even referred to as some at residence. They are all greater than prepared to assist, he stated.
In the 2 years he is been on the program, his 19-year-old construction firm has nearly been reborn.
“I’ve gone from a few hundred thousand a year to more than $600,000 a year, and I’d say it’s all because of MCCAP,” Griggs stated of his income development. “MCCAP helped me to make contacts. The program has done some wonderful things for us as contractors, starting with simply giving us tools to work with.”
Others echo his emotions.
“It was a struggle before we got into the program,” stated Gary Barton, proprietor of B&G Masonry Remodeling in Akron. “MCCAP is a wonderful thing. It’s really helped me 100%. It’s kind of enabled us to do more projects and bigger projects.”
Barton stated the program has helped him spend much less time managing and extra time rising and working his enterprise — together with entry to a line of credit score that gave him extra flexibility together with his money move.
Laquata Williams, proprietor of White Glove Cleaning Solutions in Akron, stated the program has helped her higher perceive contracts, construct relationships with new shoppers and broaden her seven-person firm from residential cleansing to industrial cleansing.
“I love the MCCAP program. I think it has allowed me to form relationships with people in different business communities and different areas that I didn’t know existed,” Williams said. “It kind of opened my eyes to how far I could take my cleaning business. Before MCCAP, I was pretty small-minded and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to clean shops and houses.’ But the MCCAP program has opened so many doors for me.”
She also said the funding provided by the program has helped her a lot, particularly in managing payroll for jobs that may not pay off as quickly as she needs to pay her workers.
“I used it for employment when I do post-build cleanup. It can take a month to get you paid, and with the line of credit, I can say, ‘I need this amount to cover payroll.’ They take care of it, and if I get paid for the job, I’ll pay it back. But the process is easy and it has allowed me to hire people,” Williams said.
That’s exactly what Rachel Bridenstine wants to hear.
Bridenstine oversees lending for MCCAP as Executive Director of the DFA Development Fund of the Western Reserve & Western Reserve Community Fund. To date, she said, MCCAP participants have received 17 lines of credit, with outstanding loans ranging from a high of nearly $1 million to about $700,000 today, as some have repaid their original borrowings.
The Western Reserve Fund has been an integral part of working with Urban League to get the MCCAP program up and running — not just on the credit side, but also in organizing the program and the two-year technical support it provides to each participant. It was a success, Bridenstine said, and it may soon be easier to loan contestants more money.
Currently, loans over $100,000 require third-party approval, but the DFA has been given access to up to $3 million in loan guarantees, some of which go to MCCAP to eliminate the need for a third party, Bridenstine said.
“For some of the contractors that do residential work, that ($100,000) is fine, but for some of the larger ones that do commercial work, it’s not enough,” she said.
Some non-minority individuals in the construction industry say they are not surprised that the program is working or that minority businesses need the support and funding it provides.
It’s been a long time coming, said Lou Ciraldo, retired Summit Construction owner and mentor for MCCAP, who has volunteered with the Urban League for more than 20 years. In the past, lip service has been paid to supporting minority businesses, but little has been done to actually help them succeed.
“In the late ’90s it was more of a joy. It wasn’t a real opportunity for minority companies to get into the business,” Ciraldo said. “Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot.”
But MCCAP is different, he said, because it requires a more holistic, organized approach designed to help the companies it works with grow to the point where they no longer need help.
“I think highly of the MCCAP program because they have structured this support network with bankers, insurance people and others,” Ciraldo said, “and I’m happy to be a mentor.”
Now, with growing support, the first cohort nearing completion and a third enrolled earlier this year, the Urban League is preparing to expand the program, its vice president of programs and operations said, Larry Chadwick.
“What we’re doing now in the new year is instead of bringing people in twice a year, we’re going to bring people in quarterly. So it’s going to be four to six people per quarter,” Chadwick said.
MCCAP has shown too much progress for the Urban League not to pursue, he said.
“I definitely believe that 100 percent,” Chadwick said. “The opportunities out there and the participants we’re reaching, it’s been great. And now they (participants) are telling their peers about the program.”
They also do more than that.
“I’m finishing the program and I’m on the opposite aspect now,” Griggs said. “As a mentor.”