By Winsley Durand, Executive Director – REACH
It is my great pleasure to work with small and emerging businesses (SEBs) in the Greater Omaha Metro. Over the past five years, that has been the primary focus of my work with REACH. Not only does it allow me to do what I do best every day, it also allows me to execute my passion through servant leadership. Plus, REACH is a prime example of how the Greater Omaha Chamber exercises economic inclusion.
Economic Inclusion is an Economic Imperative
The reality is, “economic inclusion” means everyone. It’s not just the right thing to do, but an economic imperative.
While the REACH program is a race and gender-neutral program, it serves a number of women, minorities and those from underserved communities. In 2019, the ethnicity of the firms’ ownership served by REACH, was almost exactly one-third each for African American, Caucasian and Hispanic firms.
Access Makes the Difference
No single entrepreneur possesses all of the information needed to be successful. REACH participants succeed thanks in part to increased access to education, mentoring and meaningful connections. In many instances, providing access to these missing pieces of the puzzle makes all the difference in the world.
As a result, several REACH firms have experienced unprecedented growth. This growth has manifested itself in increased revenues, investments and employment. A South Omaha firm that increased employment from three people to 15. A North Omaha firm that increased revenues from $2.5 million to more than $6 million. These firms employ local residents, train people in the workforce pipeline and keep local dollars circulating longer in the region.
Increasing the Size of the Pie
Unfortunately, there are some who are resistant to embracing economic inclusion. They hold tightly to a scarcity mentality and think our economic pie has a finite number of slices and think that for one person to eat they must beat out another.
However, there are many opportunities in the Omaha Metro going to firms outside of the region because of our region’s lack of capacity.
By increasing the capacity of the Omaha Metro’s SEBs, we are increasing the size of the pie available to all. The result is creating greater operational efficiency in the local economy. This is possible due to REACH’s institutional project owners in Omaha (such as the City of Omaha, Metropolitan Community College and Seventy-Five North) embracing economic inclusion in paradigm-shifting ways. They understand economic inclusion ensures we utilize the most resources throughout the entire community. This maximizes our overall economic output. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to participate in this catalytic program.
Redefine What's Possible
Learn more about the REACH construction certificate and mentoring programs.