Stark County Minority Business Association, partner of Huntington Bank

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CANTON — Small business owners can get a taste of growing their business through a program offered by the Stark County Minority Business Association and Huntington Bank.

The first Small Business Seeds of Growth event is scheduled for June 22 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Nash Family Event & Conference Center.

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The event will give small business owners the opportunity to learn about funding and programs available to help them get started, said Leonard Stevens, chief executive of the Minority Business Association. They will also hear from community groups and other small business owners.

The association works with the Lift Local Business program developed by Huntington. Lift supports small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans, from start-up to expansion. Participants can receive loans, business planning support, free financial education courses and other services.

Huntington has committed $100 million to help small businesses through the Lift program. So far, the bank has used around $36.5 million since the program began in October 2020.

Stevens said programs similar to the Small Business Seeds of Growth event have been sponsored by Huntington in Cleveland and other major cities. This will be a first for Canton.

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The Stark County Minority Business Association has partnered with Huntington’s Lift program, Stevens said, with help from Williams C. Shivers, the bank’s former regional chairman, and Sandy Upperman, the newly appointed community chairman. of Huntington for Stark County.

Stevens said Huntington has provided the Minority Business Association with grants and other support over the years.

“It’s been a great relationship,” he said, adding that the community in Canton was lucky enough to be selected for the Seeds of Growth program.

Stevens hopes to have 100 area small businesses at the event, which is free. Registration is open until the day before the three-hour event, which begins at noon and will include a catered lunch.

Seven local small businesses will participate in a Huntington Marketplace, displaying their products and services, and attendees will be able to make purchases using coupons issued by Huntington.

Stevens hopes the Small Business Seeds of Growth program with Huntington will pave the way for future events with other financial institutions.

Stark County Moving Forward, which works with minority-owned businesses, has established ties with other major banks that have programs designed to help small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. Some of those banks have given grants to help the Minority Business Association, Stevens said.

The Minority Business Association is member-driven and offers a variety of services to business owners who join, Stevens said. The association can help business owners get started, file incorporation documents and gain access to potential lenders.

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