August 18, 2022

Chamber Launches Initiative to Support BIPOC Biz Growth and DEI

The Capital Region Chamber is launching an initiative to provide no-cost business growth services to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned enterprises and to support the implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices in the greater business community.

The Chamber’s four-year Accelerating Inclusive Economic Opportunity initiative is supported by $1.5 million, with from the Business for Good, the KeyBank Foundation and CDPHP.

“The Chamber will be raising the bar and creating greater equity in the Capital Region by both providing BIPOC-owned enterprises with one-on-one services, as well as supporting DEI efforts in the business community. We are deeply thankful for Business for Good, the KeyBank Foundation and CDPHP, whose support will result in a more economically inclusive and prosperous Capital Region,” said Capital Region Chamber President and CEO Mark Eagan.

“Our community is better when everyone has an opportunity to grow in an equitable way. All of us at KeyBank are proud to be part of this collaborative effort that will give the Chamber resources to provide leadership, education, and programming to help Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) businesses owners in our region grow,” said KeyBank’s Capital Region Market President Fran O’Rourke. “This will make these businesses stronger by helping them overcome barriers, scale operations and build wealth. This is a wonderful illustration of how we are helping businesses in the Capital Region accelerate inclusive economic opportunity.”

“At BFG, we assist individuals and entrepreneurs in navigating the dynamic and challenging business environment. We are thrilled to support the Capital Region Chamber, as they champion an inclusive ecosystem here in our region. This initiative brings more resources and networking opportunities to those striving for success, and we cannot wait to witness all the progress and lives changed in the process,” said Business for Good CEO Jahkeen Hoke.

“CDPHP is dedicated to building stronger, more diverse communities, which is why we are excited to support the Capital Region Chamber’s Accelerating Inclusive Economic Opportunity initiative. We believe the Chamber is uniquely positioned to support the local business community as it adopts DEI practices, all while growing our BIPOC-owned businesses,” said CDPHP President and CEO Dr. John D. Bennett.

BIPOC-owned businesses

There are more than 760 BIPOC-owned businesses in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. While any of these BIPOC-owned businesses in these four counties can participate in the program, the Chamber will focus its efforts on supporting the estimated more than 400 with revenues $200,000 and $1 million. The services the Chamber will provide to BIPOC-owned enterprises under this initiative include:

  • One-on-one engagement to meet businesses where they are in their life cycle of business and offer individualized support, expertise, and solutions to have the greatest impact on success;
  • Connection to resources and expertise utilizing a collaborative, partnership approach through the Chamber’s network of strong community partners;
  • Funding to cover the costs of vetted business experts and consultants for specific needs if/as needed (and, wherever possible, utilizing regional BIPOC business experts and consultant organizations);
  • Business Introductions and B2B networking events to increase economic and partnership opportunities;
  • Educational sessions and skills building classes on a variety of topics (ex. How to bid on government contracts);
  • NYS M/WBE certification assistance with the application process for as appropriate; and
  • Professional development through a one-year, no-cost membership to the Capital Region Chamber for participating BIPOC-led businesses with access to its networking, professional development, and educational opportunities (the membership will be discounted the following year).

Providing much of this business support is the Chamber’s newly hired director of BIPOC business growth, Danielle Davis, who owned and operated The Dutch Pot, a Jamaican restaurant in Albany.

DEI Implementation

Chamber Vice President of DEI Jason Benitez is leading the Chamber’s effort to assist businesses with DEI implementation. The DEI implantation services the Chamber will provide include:

  • Promotion of the moral and economic benefits of DEI practices, policies, and culture;
  • Workshops and trainings;
  • Connections to employment opportunities and under-tapped talent pools (BIPOC, veteran, LGBTQ+, second-chance hiring populations) through key partner engagement,
  • Referral source for BIPOC-led companies;
  • DEI “toolkits” and other resources to assist businesses with advancing DEI practices and outcomes; and
  • Marketing and outreach to attract and retain a more diverse workforce and inclusive employers.


About the Capital Region Chamber:

The Capital Region Chamber and its Center for Economic Growth affiliate drive economic prosperity with one voice, one mission, as one region. The Chamber, with 2,700 member-business from throughout Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Rensselaer counties, provides catalytic leadership, advocacy, and broad-based member services. The Center for Economic Growth is the 8-county regional economic development organization.