Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose visited Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business yesterday (February 15) as a part of an ongoing tour of the Buckeye State’s minority-owned small businesses during Black History Month.
LaRose met with a cohort of Cleveland-area entrepreneurs and small business owners at CSU’s Weston Ideation Lab to discuss Ohio’s ongoing support for new business development and innovation. CSU President Harlan M. Sands and representatives from the Ahuja College of Business were also on hand, engaged in the discussion.
LaRose provided an overview of how he and his staff work to fortify the small business community; to streamline processes and procedures for them, and to build consensus around crafting state and local policies that help Ohio’s smaller enterprises and startups survive and thrive.
As Ohio’s Secretary of State, LaRose is the sole authority to receive and approve articles of incorporation for Ohio businesses. He detailed the efficiency with which the office does so, while also granting licenses to out-of-state corporations seeking to do business in Ohio.
He also detailed the handling of limited partnerships and limited liability company filings with the Secretary of State’s Office. The Corporations Section of the Business Services Division of LaRose’s office also approves amendments to filed documents, mergers, consolidations and dissolutions; registers trademarks, trade names, service marks and fictitious names.
What’s more, they approve and maintain a registry of business names, names and addresses of statutory agents, incorporators’ names, corporations’ charter numbers, dates of incorporation, and the number of authorized shares per corporation.
LaRose did mention several areas where changes and transitions to new protocols on a state level could help further assist small business owners and entrepreneurs—namely in the streamlining of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification processes.
A cohort of CSU’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) clients and CSU student/alumni entrepreneurs shared stories from vocations ranging from food/beverage services, mobile apps and data, to clothing, construction and bioengineering.
“[Starting a business] is the hardest thing you'll ever do,” LaRose said to the group. “What this is all about, is encouraging people to start their own business and know that [doing so] is accessible to them.”
After the roundtable and overview, LaRose spent the rest of the hourlong discussion reinforcing one of his biggest messages—that he sees small businesses and entrepreneurs as one big ecosystem that should network, mentor and support one another.
“One of the best things you can do is—the best thing you can do in general—is find a mentor, somebody who's been there before," he said, referencing both personal and professional networks.
“There’s also a group called SCORE—the Senior Council of Retired Executives. These people made their money in successful careers and they’re enjoying retirement,” LaRose added. “They are a wealth of knowledge and enjoy mentoring young entrepreneurs a way to give back.”
LaRose acknowledged that the SBDC certainly qualifies as a mentoring channel as well. One of 41 SBDCs throughout Ohio, CSU’s center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Katie Van Dyke, CSU’s SBDC director.
The CSU SBDC provides “no-cost, confidential, in-depth, one-on-one counseling for small businesses with under 500 employees,” said Van Dyke. SBDC offers also individual training, counseling, technical-based assistance, loan packaging and access to governmental programs.
Starting a new business “takes a 100% commitment,” said LaRose, himself a product of growing up in a framework of a family business. “Whatever your dream, your passion is, pursue it as hard as you can.”
The visit by LaRose was organized in partnership with SBDC and was punctuated by Monte Ahuja College of Business Dean Ken Kahn, Ph.D., who concluded the event by thanking both parties and the cohort for the discussion.
Prior to being elected to statewide office, Secretary of State Frank LaRose served two terms in the Ohio State Senate representing the 27th Senate District in northeast Ohio. LaRose was born in Akron and grew up in Copley Township.
An Army Veteran, LaRose was a part of the 101st Airborne and earned the Bronze Star for his service. After returning from Iraq, LaRose graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in consumer affairs, minoring in business administration.