AMPLIFY Clearwater works to grow more diverse

When the nonprofit EmpowHERment won AMPLIFY Clearwater’s minority-owned business of the year award last year, it was an accomplishment for the chamber of commerce group as well.  

EmpowHERment, a women’s community center offering support services, support groups and empowerment workshops, was one of ten businesses and organizations that received a complimentary one-year membership to AMPLIFY through a new small diverse business membership program.

AMPLIFY Clearwater President and CEO Amanda Payne says the program brings increased diversity to the chamber’s membership and introduces the chamber’s resources and connections to businesses that could benefit from them.

“It’s plugging in a sector of business owners that may not have engaged otherwise and that was really the idea,” Payne says. “When you talk about diversity, equity and inclusion and then do an audit of your own organization and recognize a certain sector has just not been exposed to the chamber of commerce world. This is a way to introduce ourselves and really expand our membership to have a more diverse and inclusive membership. The key to having a diverse and inclusive organization is having a diverse and inclusive membership.”

Sponsored by Duke Energy, the small diverse business program is now accepting applications for its second year.  

“It’s certainly gained more traction,” Payne says. “Last year, we had a lot of very small mom and pops. This year, we’re getting interest from businesses that, while still small businesses, are more established and have more employees.”

Connecting minority-owned small businesses to the chamber of commerce's resources and business network can help those business owners overcome a significant hurdle to their growth and success. The 2020 Annual Business Survey notes that while minorities make up 32 percent of the population, less than 19 percent of U.S. employers are minority-owned.

In a column for 83 Degrees on the larger benefits of supporting minority-owned businesses, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council President and CEO Beatrice Louissaint points to an Endeavor Insight report that finds businesses of 10 or more employees account for more than 70% of job creation and revenue growth among minority-owned companies, but only 19% of Black-owned businesses and 20% of Hispanic-owned businesses reach that scale.

The AMPLIFY Clearwater program is open to Black, Asian and Latino-owned small businesses based in Tampa Bay, as well as businesses in the region owned by veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities. To be eligible, the business owner must be a brand new chamber of commerce member. The Duke Energy sponsorship covers membership fees for one year.

“After that, it’s on us to make sure these businesses enjoy their membership, see the benefits and come back,” Payne says.

For more information or to apply go to AMPLIFY Clearwater Small diverse business membership.
For more information on the organization in this story go to AMPLIFY Clearwater and  EmpowHERment.
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