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Published on July 14th, 2020 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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MBDA COVID-19 Project Forms Task Force to Focus on Minority-owned Businesses

Columbia, SC – MBDA COVID-19 Project announces the formation and ongoing operations of the Amplify Task Force. The task force will function as a think tank for the minority community gathering input from minority-owned businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational and financial institutions. According to Diane E. Sumpter, operator of the South Carolina MBDA Business Center, this new entity is a key component of its MBDA COVID-19 Project.

“The unprecedented economic impact of COVID-19 and the recent protests against systemic inequality make it absolutely critical that the minority community come together to assess, strategize, and prioritize our economic needs and interests,” said Sumpter. “The purpose of the Amplify Task Force is to conceptualize, promote, present, and advocate for minority economic development during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We envision the task force to serve as an effective creator, convener, and conduit for solutions for the minority community’s economic survival and growth.”

The work of the Amplify Task Force will benefit South Carolina and North Carolina.  Additional funding secured through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) makes it possible for DESA, Inc. to operate the MBDA COVID-19 Project, utilizing funds appropriated through the CARES ACT. The range of services the project will provide include assisting minority firms in obtaining financing through the SBA’s PPP and EIDL loan programs, and the deployment of initiatives to identify strategic priorities that will drive economic growth.

Amplify launched its bi-monthly meetings on June 10th using Zoom. It meets again on June 25th.  The work of the task force will be largely conducted through weekly meetings of five topical committees: Capital & Resources, Technology & Modernization, Management & Operations, Public Policy & Legislation, and Opportunities. In addition to the five committee chairs, a staff liaison is assigned to assist each committee. The seven to 10 member committees reflect a diverse group of economic-oriented business owners and professionals from SC and NC. Members serve to assess needs and develop solutions on each topic. Collectively, they inform the decision-making process through the unique perspectives of their constituencies and geographic locales. A full listing of Amplify Task Force members can be found at mbdacovid19project.com.

The Amplify Task Force intends to complete its work by the end of July 2020, which aligns with the close of the first phase of the MBDA COVID-19 Project response effort. The entire effort spans three four-month periods as described below:

  • Resilience Period – April 2020 to July 2020
  • Rebound & Recovery Period – August 2020 to November 2020
  • Rise Period – December 2020 to March 2021

During Resilience, as the virus is still active and reopening is commencing, the Center has been working to help the minority economic sector gain access to capital. Now strategies for moving beyond reopening into future growth and development become the focus. 

“This is what makes the work of the Amplify Task Force so vital”, Sumpter said.

As the committees meet, they will brainstorm, engage in meaningful discussions, analyze data, and review relevant literature, like the reports published by the Kerner Commission in 1968 and the Commission on Minority Business in 1991, as well as recommendations developed by AccelerateSC. 

Amplify will produce its own report, compiling a minority economic agenda for the Carolinas by mid-August. This agenda will include strategies for minority economic development to deliver impact over the short and long term.

More detailed information on the Amplify Task Force and its work is available on the MBDA COVID-19 Project website, MBDACOVID19Project.com. Anyone wishing to contribute ideas or work on the issues before the task force may contact Sandra Bell at sbell@mbdacovid19project.com


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