EXPERT ADVICE: Collaborations Are Key for Success

April 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Collaboration is defined as “the act of working with another or others on a joint project, or as “something created by working jointly with another or others”. Similarly, Partnership is defined as “the state or condition of being a partner; participation; association; joint interest”. What both of these words indicate is that it requires more than just one individual or institution to fulfill a purpose. As an example, The Support Center was created  over twenty years ago on the very basis of partnership; working together with Community Development Credit Unions to enable them to serve their communities better through homeownership and loans to small businesses.

In the current state of our economy, partnerships and collaborations are more important than ever. For organizations and institutions working to expand access to financial services in underserved communities, collaborating will be vital to achieving common outcomes. As we have discussed in a previous blog post about access to capital, successfully serving small businesses requires an effective flow of information from lending sources down to the small business owners. On the lending side, creating working partnerships can help information flow smoothly and enable lenders and providers to work together to more effectively serve our communities. For example, partnering with organizations like Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to offer financial literacy, access to capital, and technical assistance for their clients can be a successful method of serving some of the state’s smaller communities with little or no financial options. Additionally, working with small business centers and Small Business Technology Development Centers located in community colleges and universities, which offer one-on-one counseling to worthy future and existing small business owners, can help create a constant stream of loan-ready small business owners to offer funding.

Local, state, and federal governments are also important engines of growth that can bring valuable resources to the table when partnering with non-profits, lenders, and other intermediaries to expanding entrepreneurship. At the local level, economic development initiatives, such as neighborhood revitalizations or local development projects, are opportunities for municipalities, CDCs, community groups, lenders, and other partners to target and encourage small business development.

Finally, the larger mainstream banks can help smaller banks, credit unions, and lenders provide small business financing to underserved markets. Through program-related investments (PRIs) for lending purposes, banks can help increase the capacity for lending in areas typically outside their reach.

The take-away is this: one organization or institution can’t meet all the needs of a community. For great ideas to be successful, collaborating and creating partnerships can make the best out of our efforts.

Roberta McCullough, Vice President, Business Services & Operations

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Small Business. Tags: , , , .

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