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Donna Allie, president and CEO of Team Clean Inc., a $5.2 million, full-facility maintenance firm in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, had a flourishing company but questioned her own leadership ability. Last June, she attended the Advanced Minority Business Executive Program at Loyola College in Maryland’s Loyola Center for Closely Held Firms in Baltimore to learn how to run her business more effectively. When she got home, Allie distributed an employee survey to assess what her workers thought about her leadership skills. The results were not encouraging.
"They thought very little of me because they felt I didn’t allow them to make decisions," says Allie. "As a result, I took a different approach to things. I applied the leadership skills I acquired at the program at Loyola to allow my employees to make more decisions, and I also let them know I trusted them to make decisions."
Over the past decade, some of the most prestigious universities in the United States have instituted executive training programs for minority business owners. Their aim is to help these executives improve and refine their managerial skills, enhance their knowledge of basic financial concepts and compete successfully in a global economy.
In this article, we examine the strengths of six top Minority Business Executive Programs as defined by key staff and alumni, who view these programs as beneficial to the development and longevity of minority businesses.
"Typical minority business owners will get a level of instruction they may not have been aware of or knowledgeable about," says Cherina Hughes, general business and industry specialist for the Small Business Administration, which started an executive education program in 1980 at Dartmouth College for selected 8(a) firms. "Hopefully, they’re able to go home and manage their businesses more effectively."
Clark Atlanta University
Small Business Executive Education Program (SBEEP) and Advanced Executive Education Program (AEEP)
Who should attend: SBEEP — Owners of minority businesses in operation for two to five years with annual gross revenues of $500,000+.
AEEP — Owners of minority firms in operation for at least five years with annual gross revenues of $1.5 million+.
Class size: SBEEP, 100; AEEP, 35
Fee: $3,500. Includes meals, program materials, accommodations, certificate of completion. Most attendees are owners of SBA 8(a) sponsored firms, corporate sponsored suppliers and mentor/protégé participants.
Year started: 1994
Dates: SBEEP, August 15-20; AEEP, August 25-29
Clark Atlanta is one of seven universities that are part of the SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program. Under this program, owners of 8(a) certified firms and other socially and economically disadvantaged business owners are provided management and technical aid, which includes an executive education program offering intensive, weeklong classroom training sessions.
"Our purpose is to help 8(a) firms be successful while they’re in the program and after graduation," says Marvin Patterson, associate dean, School of Business Administration at Clark Atlanta. "This program helps them to understand their market, how to take advantage of technology to manage their businesses, and how to attract and