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Carrboro honors businesses owners during Minority Enterprise Development Week

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Carrboro has a bustling street life on Oct. 26, 2023.

Carrboro celebrated Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week last week, as announced by Mayor Damon Seils.

MED Week, started by the U.S. Department of Commerce 40 years ago, honors minority-owned businesses and their contributions to the community.

"Minority-owned businesses often face barriers to terms of access to capital and other resources," Seils said. "[MED Week is] just to highlight the accomplishments of minority-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and business leaders."

According to the Census Bureau, there are at least 55 minority-owned businesses in Carrboro, employing more than 1,200 people. 

Siddisee Hirpa, the owner and instructor of Kumon Math and Reading Center of Carrboro-South Green, attended the town council meeting where Seils read the proclamation.

"What I’m hoping is by putting an emphasis on minority-owned businesses, it will just become more part of the consciousness of the everyday person living in the area," Hirpa said.

Hirpa said she was the first of her immediate family to open a business, and she said she is honored that her struggle and hard work are being recognized.

Carrboro's Economic Development Department works to promote minority-owned businesses through programs such as BIPOC Business Roundtable discussions, which the Town is promoting during MED Week. 

"We have these business roundtables, which are featured to encourage local, minority-owned business owners to come together and talk with Town staff about the challenges that they’re facing and brainstorm how the Town or other factors could be helpful in addressing those challenges," Seils said.

During last year's roundtable, some minority business owners questioned whether the Town was prioritizing their needs.

Hirpa said purposefully recognizing minority groups is especially important given the context of Chapel Hill and Carrboro's history of segregation and discrimination.

Seils said Carrboro is a small town with a small budget, and its ability to have a big impact is limited. 

He said the Town is aiming to provide support to people who want to start or maintain their businesses, and Town leadership wants to address the additional barriers or challenges minority business owners face.

"It’s less about whether it matches a demographic measure and more about meeting the needs of people who come to the town and say, 'Hey, I want to start a business,' or, 'I have a business that I can't support,'" he said. "And we're providing that support, and it's helping businesses start, grow and thrive."

Hirpa said the Town will soon hold programs such as the BIPOC Business Pop-up Program and the One-on-One Business Coaching Program. 

Delores Bailey, the executive director of EmPOWERment, Inc., said she is excited about the partnership between the BIPOC Business Pop-up Program and EmPOWERment's minority business education program, Brightpath Solutions.

Bailey said she thinks it is amazing that Carrboro is taking the time to acknowledge MED Week. To her knowledge, she said, there are not many other local governments doing the same.

"I applaud Carrboro for their efforts and for what they do every single year, and I just want to encourage other minority business owners operating in Carrboro to let their light shine," Bailey said. 

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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