MINNEAPOLIS (May 17, 2018) – On the evening of June 11, Walker Art Center will be filled with optimism and energy from successful Minnesota minority business owners – and the partners, volunteers and community leaders who support their work.
Meda, a nonprofit dedicated to helping minority entrepreneurs succeed, is hosting its 47th annual meeting to celebrate and recognize advances in minority entrepreneurship within its community.
“When minority businesses succeed, the entire community benefits,” said Gary Cunningham, Meda president and CEO. “Meda’s annual meeting is an opportunity to recognize our many partners and clients – and to thank them for their commitment to create thriving Minnesota communities through a more inclusive economy.”
This year, Meda will honor four individuals or organizations for their significant contributions and community impact.
“Our 2017 award winners are innovative partners, clients and volunteers – all determined to advance minority entrepreneurship,” said Cunningham. “Our Entrepreneur of the Year, for example, is a tenacious business owner who is creating jobs and giving back to her community.” Gloria Freeman has been named Entrepreneur of the Year. Freeman is the founder of Olu’s Home, a residence for people who are elderly, have developmental disabilities or mental illness, and Olu’s Beginnings, a holistic, intergenerational early childhood program in North Minneapolis.
Minneapolis CPA and advisory firm Lurie LLP has been named Corporation of the Year for its legacy of pro-bono service. More than 100 Lurie employees have given over 25,000 hours of volunteer service to Meda clients since the firm first partnered with Meda.
Meda chose Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM) as its Community Partner of the Year. JAUM worked with Meda to launch the JA/Meda Fellows Program, a creative partnership to develop young entrepreneurs of color.
Fredrikson & Byron law firm, Minneapolis, has been named Corporate Volunteer of the Year. Its lawyers donate their time to Meda clients, helping minority entrepreneurs understand the legal implications of business ownership and providing instruction in Meda’s Mini MBA program. Minority business owners often lack access to capital to start and grow their businesses. According to a 2017 report by the Minority Business Development Agency, loan denial rates were three times higher for minority firms with gross receipts under $500,000 and about twice as high for minority firms with greater revenues.
Meda services include business consulting, financing solutions and corporate and government opportunities, such as contracts and funding opportunities. Since its inception in 1971, Meda has assisted over 20,500 minority entrepreneurs and helped start over 500 minority-owned small businesses.
In July, Meda will move into its new Minneapolis headquarters in the Thor Companies building.
About the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency (Meda)
Meda provides business consulting, access to capital, and market opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. Meda also operates a business development center under cooperative agreement with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Minneapolis MBDA Business Center connects Minnesota Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) with business opportunities and has been recognized as the top performing center in the country the last two years.