December 1, 2022

Pierce County Business Accelerator nabs Golden Shovel

When South Sound folks do something awesome, sometimes you need to dig up another shovel.

Pierce County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce were each presented a Golden Shovel Award at the EDB 2022 Annual Meeting for their work to create the Pierce County Business Accelerator (PCBA) program.

The PCBA, created in response to the COVID pandemic and the impact in the County’s underserved communities, is a program of Pierce County Economic Development, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and administered by the Chamber.

The dynamic duo was an apt pick for this year’s honor, which was created by the EDB to recognize businesses, organizations or individuals that have made a significant contribution to the economic well-being of Tacoma-Pierce County. In less than a year after its 2021 launch, the PCBA graduated 9 cohorts and provided 200 business owners and entrepreneurs with business training, coaching, technical and networking support. Businesses served by the program were 93 percent BIPOC owned, 14 percent veteran owned, and 70 percent women owned.

Pierce County Economic Development Director Betty Capestany and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce CEO Andrea Reay accepted the Golden Shovels. They were joined on stage by representatives of the PCBA’s partners, including City of Lakewood (municipal partner), Asia Pacific Cultural Center, The Black Collective, Mi Centro, Tacoma Urban League and Korean Women’s Association.

Unique approach yields impressive results

Upon accepting the award, Capestany recapped how the PCBA reimagined the concept of business accelerators to help foster innovation and create wealth-building opportunities. In addition to its unique targeted focus on BIPOC, veteran and women-owned businesses, cohort leaders, instructors and professional-services providers reflect the diverse participants. Graduates also have access to additional support and resources, including grant funding.

Capestany also took the opportunity to reveal some impressive results. “Of the 200 participants who completed the program, 146 have accepted awards totaling more than $3 million,” she said.

“It’s such an honor to be a part of this important work,” Reay said. “Equitable economic development doesn’t just happen. This program shows that there’s nothing we can’t do together as a community.”

Capestany said the County is taking steps to help more business owners and encouraged meeting attendees to come along for the ride.

“We want to continue the PCBA program,” she said. “I welcome more people to become mentors and be part of these amazing stories and partnerships.”

Want to learn more about this great Pierce County collaboration? Read the article in the Nov. 2022 issue of Onward, and check out this video featuring PCBA program partners and participants.


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