Support for small business and entrepreneurs is a hurdle many, if not, all cities have overcome. Dallas is no exception, and as a town, which touts its business community, some effort to actualize a solution would be paramount. Recently several organizations came together to attack that very issue. The solution they came up with is B.U.I.L.D.

B.U.I.L.D. stands for Broadening Urban Investment to Leverage Dallas, and the goal is to make it easy for any entrepreneur or creative to find the resources that can help them move through the process of entrepreneurship. In essence, B.U.I.L.D makes it easy for any entrepreneur, freelancer, or creative to find the resources that can help them move their venture forward, whether they are building a high-growth startup or a community movement, one can find resources and organizations to support you.

As with many projects of this scale many parties came together to make sure it would happen. BCL of Texas, The city of Dallas, the DEC, JPMorgan Chase and other partners in the community, such as Dream Spring, Texas People Fund as well, and Lift Fund, which are also community development financial institutions as well all helped in the organization and implementation of the B.U.I.L.D. initiative.

Brian Marshall, Director of Entrepreneurship for BCL of Texas said, “So really this initiative starts way back, actually, if you were to go back to focusing on 2013 in Dallas, where Dallas was ranked last when it came to economic improvement for entrepreneurship in the community…if you move ahead to October of 2018, where this initiative really got a focus from JPMorgan Chase to focus on the Dallas community. And how can we use entrepreneurship for economic empowerment in [certain] areas? Using entrepreneurship as a tool to build access and wealth were some of the key elements that we really want to focus on and really help the entrepreneur.”

Another member of the B.U.I.L.D. coalition, Demetra Brown, Senior Director at the DEC, also helps to ensure the success of the entrepreneur ecosystem in Dallas. Brown’s organization is very accustomed to providing quality service and business resources to local DFW. Brown stated, “The DEC Network is the ecosystem builder for the BUILD Collaborative. Essentially, we act as the lead organization for BUILD as a coalition. We’re responsible for convening ecosystem partners and coordinating key strategies.”

Specifically with B.U.I.L.D., Black and brown entrepreneurs have a clear pathway to grow their business, whether that be getting personal development, how do you do a business plan to access the capital, and other services. That’s the core focus.

Modern solutions need modern tools and B.U.I.L.D. is prepared to address the market where it is. Unlike former development and resource programs the B.U.I.L.D. team is utilizing modern technology to help uplift the Dallas entrepreneur community. Artificial Intelligence also known as A.I. is a driving tool in assisting local business owners achieve the success they are seeking.

Senior Outreach Specialist for the City of Dallas, Denita Lacking-Quinn spoke to us about the technology being used to amplify the reach of the Dallas business resources program. She talked about how the B.U.I.L.D. initiative technology is different from other entrepreneurship empowerment programs said, “BUILD is a responsive website that not only expands programs from each Business Service Organization but it connects business owners to each growth stage; taking it from idea stage to mature stage, and access to resources.“

“We use AI to build databases of all resources and support organization for entrepreneurs and non-profits within Dallas County. We are also able to categorize business service organizations in step 1 and identifying resources quicker in step 2. In step 3 we plug in the small business / nonprofit. In Step 4 we track their progress, activation of resources and completion of milestones.“ She continued, “We are able to increase the life cycle of a business/nonprofit by adapting services as the grow. Finally, [having] access to extended education for businesses owners helps them  to thrive. We are building a robust roadmap to keep business owners engaged for the life of their business.”

Ultimately it boils down to expectations. What are the expectations of the community for B.U.I.L.D., and what is the expectation of B.U.I.L.D. for the community.

Historic challenges are far reaching and in certain cases systemic; however, the coalition that supports the B.U.I.L.D. program are hopeful and prepared.

 “As a coalition, we recognize that entrepreneurship is a tool that helps our community address the racial wealth gap. With that being said, one challenge is taking all of the components of BUILD–people, resources, etc and moving in one cohesive direction. This is what makes ecosystem building complex.” Demetra Brown stated. “BUILD is a resource for small business owners and a support network for business support organizations. Our goal is to bridge the gap in access to resources for underserved small business owners and increase awareness of the resources that exist in our entrepreneurial community. As a coalition, it is our job to keep entrepreneurs at the center of our work.”

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