What’s Next for ACCESS?

A letter update from ACCESS Center for Equity + Success cofounder, Wilson Lester

Wilson Lester, Piedmont Business Capital

Dear Triad/Winston-Salem Business & Entrepreneurial Community,

We are excited to share with you an update on the ACCESS Center for Equity and Success. As you know, ACCESS launched in 2018 with the goal of addressing the disparate condition of supplier diversity in public and private spending in Winston-Salem, NC—and across the country. What we learned was that even the best-laid plans need constant development.

Just as we were identifying how to approach our work in a live environment, COVID-19 was on our heels and transformed the work from development to triage for businesses trying to survive the times. Later in 2020, ACCESS underwent a number of organizational changes. Undeniably, these shifts converged to slow our momentum—yet provided us with a significant opportunity to sharpen our focus on impact and sustainability.

Today ACCESS is positioning itself as an integral part of the supplier funnel for major regional organizations. The future is bright and our new team will focus on:

  • Forecasting planned spend targeting minority business enterprises (MBEs) <$1MM in annual revenue
  • Providing business coaching
  • Connecting firms to capital
  • Historically underutilized business (HUB) certification support as needed

Our new focus presents more than $100MM in opportunities for MBEs in our market and regionally over the next several years. The companies we contract with to support their supplier diversity efforts must be focused on four areas:

  • Growing and scaling firms owned by people of color
  • Creating pathways to mobilization capital
  • Rewarding high performing firms with multiple opportunities to successfully bid on larger opportunities with their companies 
  • Providing testimonials and referrals in support of the firms engaged

As a cofounder of the ACCESS Center for Equity and Success, I would like to thank the Winston-Salem community, collaborators and funders for continuing to support this viable and impactful organization. Our progress is a demonstration of your fervor for economic parity. We are just at the beginning of what will be a transformative launching pad for businesses that just need the door of opportunity opened.

Visit our new home on the web at www.accessces.org and get to know our newest team member Cheryl Sutton, Ph.D., our MWBE Specialist, who recently met our entrepreneurial partners at August’s ecosystem meeting. There, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Sutton and discover how ACCESS can support you.