Minneapolis-based MEDA (Metropolitan Economic Development Association), the expanding nonprofit advisor and financier to minority entrepreneurs,was the top-performing such agency among the nation’s 44 Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers in the fiscal year that ended in October.
Meda’s business center services include consulting, financing solutions and corporate and government contracts contracts and funding opportunities.
Meda, which also won in 2016, out-scored other business centers for overall performance, including job creation, financing, contracts and exports secured for clients.
Nonprofit Meda helped create or retain more than 1,400 jobs in the Twin Cities. It also provids advisory services to African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American and Native-American entrepreneurs.
Meda, with 145 borrowers, boasts a growing loan fund that should hit $17.5 million this month, thanks to investments by banks, corporations, foundations and others.
“This national recognition confirms the impact of Meda services, and [our] ability to fuel Minnesota’s economic growth by opening doors for minority entrepreneurs,” Meda CEO Gary Cunningham said in a statement. “We share this honor with our many deserving partners and employees, including the greater business community and state of Minnesota.”
The 2012 economic census showed minority-owned business is the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s economy. From 2007- 2012, the number of minority businesses grew by 33 percent, compared to 3 percent for non-minority businesses, according to Commerce. Minority businesses increased their employment and payrolls at a greater rate than non-minority businesses as well.
CEO Jashon Eison, co-owner of H&B Elevators, turned to Meda in 2012 to help him and his partner, both employees, buy the elevator manufacturer from a former owner who wanted out of the business. The North Minneapolis company has doubled in size to $10 million in sales and 50-plus employees.
The company, the only African-American-owned elevator manufacturer in the nation, plans to hire dozens more employees and grow the business to $20 million in sales over the next five years. Eison also is hiring northside residents and connecting with local nonprofits in an area of the Twin Cities with higher-than-average unemployment and lower household income.
“It takes minority businesses to strengthen our communities and our entire economy,” said Cunningham. “With our changing businesses landscape— and Minnesota’s own increasing diversity — it benefits us all when everyone can fully participate in the marketplace.”