Jun 28, 2022 - Business

Accelerating minority businesses in Tampa Bay

Illustration of a Black woman's hands holding the city of Tampa Bay.
Illustration: Axios Visuals

Derek Mateos, the president and CEO of Matcon Construction, had plateaued.

Flashback: When Mateos entered the first cohort of the Tampa Bay Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator Program in 2018, he felt like he'd done everything he could in the local economy. His business was stagnant.

  • But through the accelerator, Mateos connected with big clients like TECO and Publix, and Matcon is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Why it matters: Mateos wasn't alone in his struggles. Hispanic and Black businesses account for 50% of Hillsborough County companies, but only 5% of revenue, according to research from the chamber.

  • "The idea is to break that code, to break in," Mateos told Axios. "Bring some of these companies into the circle to share in that wealth as well."

Driving the news: After chairing the 2022 cohort, Mateos is helping the program search for businesses to join the 2024 cohort.

Details: Once a month, business experts in fields like financial management, human relations, sales, marketing, and growth strategies give deep-dive presentations through the program.

  • Participating businesses also get a business adviser and a financial adviser to help them navigate the local economy, as well as a discounted membership to the chamber.

Plus: Mateos said the relationships formed with other business leaders in the program were invaluable, and that he got the most out of them when he opened up about his struggles.

  • "Bonds are created when you share vulnerable information," Mateos said. "You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That's how you grow."
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