Black, woman-owned firm gets $200K from Louisville to launch minority business incubator – Courier Journal

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Black, woman-owned firm gets $200K from Louisville to launch minority business incubator – Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Government is awarding $200,000 to a Black and woman-owned accounting and consulting firm to launch and operate a m

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Government is awarding $200,000 to a Black and woman-owned accounting and consulting firm to launch and operate a minority business incubator, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Thursday. 

SKS Accounting and Consulting Firm was selected after being one of 10 companies to respond to a request for proposals issued by the city in late March to run the incubator, focused specifically on Black and minority-owned businesses.

Founded in 1999 by Kena Samuels Stith, SKS Accounting and Consulting Firm has three locations and 15 full-time employees. The firm’s incubator will be called “The Well,” and it will focus on business development services like accounting, marketing and technology implementation.

“The Well draws its name from the idea that water wells were the center of communities, providing basic sustenance people needed to survive and thrive,” said Samuels Stith, the incubator’s interim director. “The Well incubator will strengthen Louisville’s Black community through entrepreneurship-driven generational wealth creation.”

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Samuels Stith added the incubator’s goal is to “increase the number of Black-owned businesses, steer Black entrepreneurs toward high-growth, high-revenue industries and use transformative technology to increase resilience among existing Black-owned businesses.”

The Well will receive $100,000 to start the incubator from the city’s fiscal year 2021 general fund, with a fiscal year 2022 commitment of an additional $100,000 for the incubator to sustain its operations in its first and second years.

The incubator will be at 1702 Dixie Highway and offer fellowships to early-stage entrepreneurs and growth-stage businesses. It also will regularly host virtual and in-person workshops on a variety of skills, as well as networking opportunities.

SKS Accounting & Consulting Firm will offer in-house operational support services through The Well, which will provide access to desk space, wireless internet, printers and Chromebooks and a database of small business resources and tools, among other things.

To help sustain itself, The Well will “sell bundled memberships and sponsorship opportunities to local companies to ensure memberships are accessible to those in low-income communities and those who are facing economic hardship,” according to a news release.

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The city’s funding of the incubator is part of a larger effort to diversify business ownership in Louisville. Only 2.4% of businesses in the Derby City are Black owned, despite Black residents accounting for 23.4% of the city’s population.

Fischer has touted that in the city’s 2022 fiscal year budget, it has allocated more than $13 million to fund initiatives that support Black and minority-owned businesses. It includes $25,000 to support capacity building for the Black Business Association and $65,000 to hire a new west Louisville senior economic development manager.

Fischer said “we are proud to fund the creation of a minority business incubator as we seek to grow the number of Black and minority-owned businesses in our city, as well as provide additional support for and increase the resiliency of existing businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Through The Well incubator, SKS Accounting & Consulting Firm will fill gaps in the small business resource ecosystem for new and existing Black and minority-owned businesses,” Fischer said.

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Contact Ben Tobin at bjtobin@gannett.com and 502-377-5675 or follow on Twitter @Ben__Tobin.

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