The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce plans to launch a Lowcountry Minority Business Directory that encompasses businesses in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
Senior Vice President of Leadership and Programs Adrian Cain said his team has reached out to a series of partners across the region, including the city of Charleston, North Charleston and The Climb Fund — formerly Charleston LDC — to create a hub for minority-owned businesses.
While many cities already maintain a list of their own minority-owned vendors, Cain said the directory, which is anticipated to come out this week, will differ in that it aggregates data from all three counties. The guide can then be filtered by industry type, including the initial filters of Hispanic-owned, Black-owned, veteran-owned, women-owned and LGBTQ+.
“We recognize there was an opportunity to leverage all those resources through these partners to build a comprehensive guide for the entire region,” Cain said. “It will put the data into a place that’s quickly there, that’s easy to organize.”
To ensure information is up-to-date and accurate, The Chamber will audit the list at least twice a year — something other agencies don’t have the resources to accomplish.
“Our aim is to have this resource so we help ensure that businesses that want to hire minority-owned businesses have an easy way to do that,” Cain said.
Participation will be free for businesses, whether or not they are members. Down the road, owners will be able to opt in through the portal and submit their business information. The Chamber will then verify the data and publish it live.
“And as the guide grows out and adds more, we’ll add more filters both in industry type, if someone’s looking for a contractor or electrician,” Cain said.
The guide will launch with 100 businesses, but Cain, who leads the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, sees the list expanding tenfold by the end of the year.
“I think it’s a recognition that our region is made up of a mosaic of business and business leaders. We know there is a tremendous need to lift up and provide more inclusive opportunities for minority-owned business to scale and grow their businesses,” Cain said. “One way to do that is to provide a platform to really lift up and hold those.”