Kaiser Permanente and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City enter Sacramento, the fifth U.S. city in which their collaboration is helping businesses create more well-paying jobs. Pictured, Susan Perkins, a visiting scholar at Northwestern University and associate professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, leads a course.
Business owners and entrepreneurs representing dozens of small- and medium-sized businesses from underserved communities in the Sacramento area filled a meeting room recently for a day of coaching, education, and insight. They were participating in an innovative acceleration program, Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC), which is helping to affect not only businesses, but the communities in which they operate.
“This program is about transforming business, transforming communities, and transforming lives. We believe that transforms health,” said Trish Rodriguez, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento. “It is a vital part of our mission.”
The businesses were participating in the Sacramento cohort of the ICCC program, a 40-hour executive education effort that is the result of a partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the national non-profit Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).
ICIC works to help small businesses grow and expand, with the goal of creating well-paying jobs in urban areas across the United States. With Kaiser Permanente’s sponsorship, ICIC has implemented the program in Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Baltimore, and now Sacramento.
ICCC provides free training, education, and mentorship to small business owners to help them build their capacity and seek access to capital.
‘This Is About Wellness’
The partnership with ICIC is an example of Kaiser Permanente’s emerging national Community Health strategy, whereby every facet of the organization strives to make a positive impact in the communities within the organization’s footprint.
“This is about wellness. This is about how you link business growth and job creation in our most distressed communities in America with wellness outcomes,” said Steve Grossman, the CEO of ICIC, who said the organization is all about inclusive prosperity.
Ninety-four applicants applied for the ICCC program in Sacramento and 60 participated in the cohort.
More than half of the participating Sacramento businesses were woman-owned, and more than half were minority-owned. Seventy percent said they were seeking capital investment.
Among those selected was Jaime Mora, founder and owner of M+A Architecture, which specializes in health care architectural design. “I love the program. It’s like a mini-MBA. I’m very busy. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But once I saw the curriculum, I could tell it was directly applicable to what I am doing day to day,” said Mora.
He said his company is ready to grow, and he called the ICCC program well worth the time.
“If I continue running a good business and I hire more people, then that’s more people who are gainfully employed. And that helps the greater community,” said Mora.
‘I Am a Community Builder’
Shannon Hackley, founder of an environmental graphic design firm, Shannon Leigh and Associates, sees the connection to community health as well. “I have 14 employees, and one of the greatest honors I have as an employer is to create jobs. If more people are working at levels that are sustainable, then I am a community builder. So, for Kaiser to be investing in us is wonderful,” said Hackley.
Training day included seminars and presentations by business professors from Harvard, Northwestern, Ohio State University, and Chicago State University, focusing on topics such as competitive strategy, marketing, and growth capital.
Several participants said they would put the information into practice right away.
Sandy Sharon, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, was one of the final speakers of the all-day event.
“We view this program and partnership with Inner City Capital Connections as a unique opportunity for local businesses to learn and grow,” she said, “ as well as to expand the number of well-paying jobs in under-resourced communities and to deepen their positive impact in their neighborhoods.”