Sunday, March 21, 2004

Pairing turned profitable

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Last summer, Carl Satterwhite was running his facilities services company. When he went to sell to corporations, a common answer was, "You don't have enough volume."

Satterwhite doesn't have that problem now.

That's because of a deal last fall that paired Satterwhite with Globe Business Interiors. The resulting office-furniture dealership, River City Furniture, bolstered by existing contracts from Globe, already has posted sales of more than $1 million and turned profitable. And it has opened doors for Satterwhite.

Although Satterwhite knew Globe well, it was the Minority Business Accelerator that provided the business advice that made the deal happen. A program of the Cincinnati USA Partnership, the Accelerator tries to make those connections.

With a budget of about $500,000 a year funded from the Partnership's campaign, the Accelerator hopes to complete about half a dozen "high-value" deals this year, director Calvin Buford said. It was born out of the Over-the-Rhine race riots of 2001, when local execs imagined a program that would allow minority-owned companies to grow more quickly.

Buford, a former corporate lawyer who retains a partnership at Dinsmore & Shohl, hopes those deals include joint ventures like River City Furniture, mergers or big contracts with some of the region's corporations.

He's concentrating on minority-owned companies with more than $1 million in annual sales. He says the region has fewer than 100 of those companies now.

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