Jim Scannell, chairman of the board and SVP with Travelers Companies; George Jacobson, consultant for MEDA, and Gary Manney, board member and senior vice president, Metropolitan Banking Group.
Sara Glassman, Dml - Star Tribune
Helping minority businesses develop
- April 1, 2012 - 11:57 AM
GEORGE JACOBSON: MINORITY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY BUSINESS CENTER
Title: project director
George Jacobson expands his longtime work with minority business owners in his new role with the Minnesota Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center.
Jacobson was named project director for the Minneapolis-based MBDA center in February. The MBDA is the only federal agency created specifically to support the growth of minority-owned businesses, and the Minneapolis center is one of 39 operating nationally.
As part of the MBDA network, Jacobson will consult with out-of-state companies, helping them make connections in the Twin Cities in addition to working with local businesses.
That's a change from the largely local focus of Jacobson's work as a director of business consulting and financing at the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), the Minneapolis-based nonprofit where he's worked for 20 years. MEDA, which operates the Minnesota MBDA Business Center, also offers consulting, training, planning and financial assistance to help minority-owned businesses start or expand.
The business center also aims to work with larger companies that are more established or have higher growth potential, Jacobson said. Earlier stage companies in industries such green technology or sustainable energy are possible candidates, as are companies in industries that have lower minority ownership rates.
Q What drew you to working with small businesses?
A It requires a strong understanding of all the basic business disciplines. You need to understand finance, accounting, legal issues and ramifications around operating a business, HR, marketing, you name it. That's a professional challenge that I find very enjoyable.
Q How are minority-owned businesses faring generally after the recession?
A My experience has been that small businesses and particularly minority-owned firms will experience a downturn more quickly and will experience and upturn more slowly than other businesses. When the economy begins to pick up, cash is what fuels the growth, and many of the businesses that we work with are undercapitalized and highly leveraged. We try to develop capital resources and business partnerships that will help them get additional resources.
Q How does your new position differ from your MEDA work?
A I managed all of [MEDA's] loan funds. I had a lot of lending and loan activity involvement and internal credit authority to make approvals on loans. As director, I won't have those functions anymore, and that was one piece of the work that I kind of hated to let go."
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