The Old National Bank Center for Business Excellence at Butler University has launched an initiative to support businesses owned by underrepresented groups throughout the state. The center, which connects member businesses with the resources needed to fuel growth, says it will waive its annual $1,000 membership fee for the first year for eligible companies. Executive Director Mark McFatridge says the idea was born out of a conversation with Victor Aguilar, a rising senior at Butler and peer mentor at the ONB Center.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Aguilar and McFatridge said the initiative stemmed from the response to the death of George Floyd.
“This was maybe a week, almost two weeks, after it happened so it was really top of mind for most of America,” said Aguilar. “I wasn’t really sure what to do, like most Americans. I didn’t have a lot of money to donate or a big platform to voice my opinion, but I know I had that trust with Mark and I had that trust with the Old National Bank Center. This initiative…I couldn’t have imagined something like this coming out of it.”
McFatridge says the conversation led to the thought that statements are good, but actions are better.
“We tried to figure out what we could do as a center to be actionable and to truly make an impact versus just issuing something that could be picked up,” said McFatridge. “And so we started talking to our partners at Old National Bank and at a minimum, we wanted to be more intentional on the recruitment of companies that were owned or run by underrepresented groups.”
He says the idea then snowballed, especially after reaching out to partners such as the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, the Indiana Small Business Development Center, the Indy Chamber, the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce, and Conscious Capitalism Indianapolis.
“That’s when it really came together and became more than just we’re going to be more intentional or we’re just going to waive a fee. It became…you know, we can really make a difference and try to help close that wealth gap that exists.”
To be eligible to take advantage of the initiative, businesses must be privately-held companies headquartered in Indiana with majority ownership by an underrepresented group, including people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and people with disabilities.
Businesses must also have annual revenues between $1 million and $50 million. The center says those with revenues less than $1 million will be referred to the SBDC.
Butler says the program will be rolled out in phases so the center “can appropriately service the potential demand.” The phases include:
- Phase One (August 12, 2020 – July 31, 2021): focus on Black-owned businesses in Marion County
- Phase Two (January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021): focus on all businesses owned by people of color and headquartered in Indiana
- Phase Three (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022): focus on women- and LGBTQ+-owned businesses headquartered in Indiana
- Phase Four (January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022): focus on businesses headquartered in Indiana and owned by veterans or individuals with disabilities
The ONB Center, which was previously known as the Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business, is a partnership between the university and Old National Bank. McFatridge says the center’s focus is to help privately-held companies to be successful by providing an assessment of a business, identify opportunities to help businesses reach their goals, and connect businesses to resources to achieve those goals.
Jim Ryan, chief executive officer of Old National Bancorp (Nasdaq: ONB), expressed his support for the new initiative.
“This is absolutely the right thing to do to support Indiana’s underrepresented business owners and the clients they serve,” Ryan said in a news release. “We are incredibly proud to partner with Butler on this program.”
McFatridge says the center’s first goal for the initiative is to spread the word to potentially-eligible businesses.
“(We want) to let people know that we’re here to help and to provide those assessments and then to make connections and then ultimately, help develop a peer mentoring network that will assist companies to achieve their goals and continue to grow and reinvest back into the underrepresented communities that we hope to serve.”
Businesses interested in the program can learn more by clicking here.
Aguilar and McFatridge say the initiative stemmed from the response to the death of George Floyd.