Equity works!

Equity Works Blog Post Image

In last week’s blog I wrote about the important work we are doing to reform our criminal justice system to be more equitable for all members of our community.

There are many other facets of our society that are ripe for reinvention and reinvestment to ensure fairness and opportunity.  Our educational system is an example of this.  Housing is another.  One more area where we have work to do is in our economy. In short, we must create and provide opportunities for everyone to succeed and thrive in our community.

That’s why I am so proud of the new business accelerator program created by our Economic Development department in partnership with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.

In response to the pandemic and the devastating impact on underserved communities in Pierce County, the County Council allocated $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to launch the Pierce County Business Accelerator (PCBA) last month.

The goal of the program is to foster innovation and create wealth-building opportunities in Pierce County with a focus on communities of color.

Just last week we celebrated the 47 local business owners who graduated the PCBA program as members of Cohorts 1 and 2!  These business owners – 45 of whom are business owners of color – completed a rigorous six-week course of instruction that covered areas that are key to business success, including “knowing your why,” building a team, financial literacy, financing, and overcoming challenges.  Class instructors are representative of the BIPOC community.

47 local business owners who graduated the PCBA program as members of Cohorts 1 and 2

47 local business owners who graduated the PCBA program as members of Cohorts 1 and 2

They are now equipped to raise external funding, are financially resourced, professionally coached and empowered to accelerate their businesses.

Thanks to ARPA funding, they are now eligible to apply for a matching grant up to $10,000, and a commercial lease stipend reimbursement grant for up to $6,000 for one year.

Cohort 3 is currently meeting and will graduate later this year. I was inspired to learn the Korean Women’s Association is providing instruction to this cohort in Korean and Vietnamese!

In total, the PCBA will train 200 business owners with an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), veteran, and women entrepreneurs through July 2022.

My thanks to the many organizations in the County that have partnered to make this program possible. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce is administering the program.

Grant Twyman and Rachel Askew built the curriculum and assembled an instructor team with the needs of BIPOC business owners top of mind.

Thank you to the City of Lakewood, our ARPA funding partner. Thanks, also, to our community partners from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, The Black Collective, Tacoma Urban League, Mi Centro, and the Korean Women’s Association who help us reach out to Pierce County communities of color.

If you’d like to know more about this inspiring and impactful program visit www.PCBA.biz.

Have a great weekend,


Bruce Dammeier