Moniker Makeover For Asheville Minority Business Program

Sep 18, 2019

An Asheville business program created to support women and communities of color who want to do business with the city  just got a makeover.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

Rosanna Mulcahy understands the power behind a name.  When she became manager of the Asheville Minority Business Program in 2018, she got a lot of grief about hers.

“When they see my name definitely they don’t think I am Latina,” says Mulcahy, “I was getting a lot of feedback! “

She also got feedback about the program’s name.

“I would hear, ‘They’re using the word minority and it offends minorities.’ ”

Enough input to inspire Mulcahy to push for a program name change.  Borrowed from the City of Charlotte, the Asheville Minority Business Program has now been rebranded as the Asheville Business Inclusion Office

“What I’m hoping is, communities who have felt excluded from the work that’s being done by city of Asheville, I hope they feel included by the name change.  Perhaps we can open up more of a comfort zone for the community to want to be involved with the work we are trying to achieve here – and what we’re trying to achieve here is to bring equity to communities of color.”

Mulcahy is quick to point out that the new moniker is just part of the makeover.  It   also includes expanded hours and office locations in local community centers. 

As for her last name, she’s keeping it.  For BPR News, I’m Helen Chickering

More information from the City of Asheville Press Release:

The office will still help local minority businesses. The name change is to better reflect how we are moving forward with the equity work that the City is doing; we need to internally change the way we view race, ethnicity, and gender. We also hope that individuals who felt uncomfortable with the word minority might feel welcome to visit the Business Inclusion Office to seek opportunities.

Outside Office Hours:

  • Burton Street Center, second Monday of the month from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and third Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Stephens Lee Center, second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Here are ways the Asheville Business Inclusion helps our local business community.

Externally

  • Helps to ensure persons of color have an opportunity contract directly with the city or as a subcontractor.
  • Engage the community in workshops, training.
  • One-on-one meetings to help small minority businesses to understand if their services can be contracted by the City.
  • Referrals to other business services and opportunities.
  • Build relationships with business owners.

Internally

  • The Business Inclusion manager review bids with an intent to actually reach minority businesses; and works with other City employees to affect policies and procedures to ensure equity.