BRAC Launches Minority Business Accelerator powered by ExxonMobil

Initiative aims to assist minority-owned businesses grow

Baton Rouge, La. (June 8, 2022) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today launched Drive Minority Business Accelerator powered by ExxonMobil in partnership with Interise’s award-winning StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum. The program is designed for minority business owners who want to take their business to the next level within the Capital Region. The year-long, cohort-style program will begin in September 2022. Interested individuals can find more information and apply at  

“We are thrilled to partner with ExxonMobil and Interise to bring a proven model for growth to our region’s minority-owned businesses,” said Adam Knapp, president & CEO of BRAC. “In our strategic planning research conducted by Ernst & Young, regions scoring high on measures of inclusivity have stronger overall economic growth. While this minority business accelerator is just one piece of strengthening economic inclusion in the Capital Region, it will fulfill an important need in our business community by helping our minority-owned businesses scale and grow their operations through training in key areas like finance, human resources, and marketing.” 

Drive powered by ExxonMobil is part of BRAC’s five-year strategic plan, BRING IT!, which identifies “creating a more inclusive economy,” as one of BRAC’s key goals for the next five years. The idea for the program originated after BRAC’s 2018 Canvas Regional Benchmarking Workshop was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the trip, the Capital Region delegation was able to see firsthand the impact of a similar program launched by the Cincinnati Regional Chamber. 

The program is funded through generous contributions from companies across the region who continue to commit to advancing economic inclusion within the Baton Rouge Area. Program sponsors include ExxonMobil, Capital One, and Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Community partners include Phelps Dunbar LLP, LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business, b1 FOUNDATION, MetroMorphosis and the Southern University Law Center. 

“For nearly 50 years, our U.S. supplier diversity program has focused on the inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses. Recent projects have provided an opportunity to recharge our local supplier diversity efforts with a focus on the North Baton Rouge community,” said ExxonMobil Public and Government Affairs Manager Stephanie Cargile. “We know that supplier development goes beyond providing business opportunities. Mentorship, capacity building, expert insight and nationally recognized training programs can ensure sustainable growth and future success for our minority businesses. We are excited to collaborate with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to provide those benefits through this program.” 

The foundation for this program lies in Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™, a nationally recognized, award-winning curriculum designed to accelerate the growth of existing small businesses. The StreetWise ‘MBA’™ uses a peer-learning method to provide small business owners with the knowledge, know-how, and networks necessary to grow and scale. Industry experts, business peers, and the program’s instructor provide insights, strategies, motivation, and accountability. At the end of the program, participants walk away with a vetted individualized three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan™ outlining the action steps required to achieve their business goals. 

“We are proud to partner with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and to bring the networks, knowledge, and know-how of our StreetWise ‘MBA’ curriculum to the minority-owned small business community,” said Darrell Byers, CEO of Interise. “Baton Rouge’s commitment to building an inclusive ecosystem is exceptional, and our partnership is a critical component to ensuring minority business owners in the city are connected to opportunities while building capacity. Supporting minority small businesses for local jobs and wealth creation — that is our nation’s best small business recovery and advancement strategy.” 

Applications are open now through July 29, 2022. Preferred characteristics of applicants include a minimum of $500,000 in annual revenue within the last five years, at least three full-time employees and at least 51% owned and operated by a minority. Participants will be selected by an advisory council and the program will begin in September 2022.  

To learn more about Drive powered by ExxonMobil and apply for the program, interested individuals can visit Questions regarding the program can be directed to BRAC’s Manager of Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives Darrell L. Johnson, Jr. at 

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber  

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at

About ExxonMobil 

ExxonMobil, one of the largest publicly traded international energy and petrochemical companies, creates solutions that improve quality of life and meet society’s evolving needs. The corporation’s primary businesses – Upstream, Product Solutions and Low Carbon Solutions – provide products that enable modern life, including energy, chemicals, lubricants, and lower-emissions technologies. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading portfolio of resources, and is one of the largest integrated fuels, lubricants and chemical companies in the world. 

About Interise 

Interise builds an inclusive economy through small business development, supporting the growth of minority-owned small businesses and small businesses located in low- and moderate-income communities. Interise’s award-winning StreetWise ‘MBA’™ uses a peer-learning method to provide business owners with the knowledge, know-how, and networks necessary to grow and scale. As Interise companies grow, they contribute to local job creation and build community wealth. Interise companies historically create new jobs at 5x the rate of the private sector, and are responsible for the creation of over 30,000 new jobs. Interise partners with government agencies, anchor institutions, and business associations to make locally branded StreetWise ‘MBA’™ programs available in 75+ cities, nationwide. Strategic Growth Partners include the Kauffman Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Prudential Foundation. More information can be found at, @StreetWise_MBA and 


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