MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) —  The Mobile Area Chamber Foundation and the Mobile Chamber, along with Innovation Portal and the University of South Alabama, will receive a $2.8 million grant through the Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program.

The MBDA, a U.S. Department of Commerce operation, “is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises,” its website states.

This grant will enable the launch of the Mobile Capital Access Network (also called MobileCAN!), which will deliver programs that benefit 2,200 minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.

The chamber; Innovation Portal, a Gulf Coast nonprofit that accelerates startup businesses’ growth; and the university will work in concert over the four-year project period to deliver programs that provide businesses the knowledge, resources and connections needed to compete in the market.

Inclusive benefits for entrepreneurs

“Our region has a diverse and thriving community of entrepreneurs and this program will provide everyone a fair chance to succeed and prosper in our rapidly growing economy,” said Mobile Area Chamber Foundation Chairman Frank Lott III.

“The MobileCAN! program is designed to be inclusive and benefit all entrepreneurs in our area,” said Mobile Chamber Vice President of Community Development Laura O’Connor. “The MBDA Capital Readiness Program will provide these entrepreneurs with the resources and technical assistance to launch and scale their businesses. It will also prepare them to apply with the State Small Business Credit Initiative to gain access to capital so they can thrive and contribute to Mobile’s economic prosperity.”

Leveraging local resources

MobileCAN! will leverage the Mobile Chamber’s economic development expertise and business network, the University of South Alabama’s business education and mentoring expertise, and Innovation Portal’s regional incubation services to support local businesses.

“The work of building inclusive entrepreneurship has been at the core of our identity since the launch of Innovation Portal, and I am delighted that the Capital Readiness Program grant allows us to continue to amplify this important work in our community,” said Todd Greer, Ph.D., Executive Director of Innovation Portal.

“These funds will help us extend our team-based mentoring program … as well as our Minority Business Development and Minority Business Accelerator programs to reach more minority, women and veteran-owned businesses. These programs assist companies with strategy, marketing and growth,” said Michael Chambers, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research with the University of South Alabama. “We try to help companies avoid the problems that can be deadly to long-term success.”