Next Street partnered with 30+ local stakeholders in Dallas to assess the health of the small business ecosystem, with a specific focus on understanding the needs and opportunities facing Black, Latinx, and female business owners, as well as those from South Dallas. We want to build a stronger, more inclusive future for Dallas by putting small businesses at the center of the city’s economic growth.

How we approached the assessment

With funding from JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and in partnership with Dreamspring, Next Street conducted research on the small business and capital landscape in Dallas County. Working with a Steering Committee comprised of local CDFIs and the City of Dallas, we undertook qualitative and quantitative analysis to understand the dynamics facing small businesses and the availability of debt and equity financing. Armed with a long list of gaps – spanning ecosystem level gaps, gaps in capital provision, and those specific to demographic groups / certain neighborhoods – we worked with a broader Advisory Committee of over 30 local partners to prioritize gaps, brainstorm impactful solutions, and narrow in on a shortlist of immediate focus areas for the small business community to own and work towards.

The Path Forward

Through our work we nominated and secured funding for the Dallas Entrepreneur Network to serve as the Dallas small business “ecosystem builder.” They will coordinate efforts across the ecosystem, set strategies, report on progress, and drive towards a more inclusive economy. Our work also led to the prioritization of three additional strategies:

  1. Expand startup services and capital for business owned by women and people of color
  2. Formalize a small business support marketing and awareness strategy, and
  3. Establish and expand credit and personal asset-building programs for low income people and people of color.

Each of these strategies is being spearheaded by a local working group, which reports into the ecosystem builder and funders.