56% annual spend is with small businesses, the highest of any Central Virginia locality
HENRICO, Va./PRNewswire/ — Henrico, Virginia was named one of the Best Places for Black Entrepreneurs, according to Smart Asset. The Richmond metro area, which includes the locality, placed eighth out of fifty-seven of the largest metro areas in the country. Metrics included number of Black-owned businesses, start-up survival rate, median Black household income, percentage of businesses with sales exceeding $250,000, and more. Since 2007, Henrico has spent $1.3 billion with small, women- and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses and they account for 56% of its annual spend.
“It is our mission and our honor to grow the economy for all,” says Anthony Romanello, Executive Director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority (EDA). “Here, we pay just as much attention to our hundreds of small businesses as we do our six Fortune 1000 headquarters, which is why more than half of our locality’s dollars are with SWaM businesses each year.
“Entrepreneurs deserve our attention and respect. They help people buy their first car … their first home. They support families, introduce new technologies, increase our competitiveness, and keep our economic engine running. In fact, they’re a huge reason why two of our communities were named a Best Place to Live in the U.S. – small business owners are crucial to Henrico’s vibrancy and success.”
A 2019 report by the Small Business Administration revealed that small businesses deliver 43.5 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, 2020 research by the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution discovered that if Black businesses could reach the same average of employees employed as non-Black businesses, it would create approximately 1.6 million jobs.
“As we move through Black History Month and transition into Women’s History Month, I think it’s a great time to remind everyone that the wellbeing of our SWaM businesses should be our concerns every month,” says Kayla Coleman, Business Manager of the Henrico EDA. “We give our support not simply because we believe this is a business issue. It is a people issue. It is an economic mobility issue, and it is an issue of opportunity and equality.”
The recognition by SmartAsset comes two years after the Henrico EDA announced a revamped approach to assisting its SWaM businesses. New methods to facilitating supplier diversity included: conducting one-on-one meetings with companies to discuss supply chain needs, providing resources to access goods and services by SWaM businesses, and hosting periodic webinars to educate Henrico businesses on the SWaM certification process.
This refreshed focus on supplier diversity also earned the Henrico EDA a 2022 National Association of Counties Achievement Award, which recognizes groundbreaking programs and initiatives in various service categories.
“We set a goal of earning a national reputation as a place where business owners from all cultures and backgrounds can thrive,” continued Romanello. “By collaborating as a community, we’ve achieved it in just two short years. People are coming here to achieve success and live their best. I can’t wait to see what more we can accomplish together.”