Evaluating the City’s B-TAP Program
“They can reach resources that I couldn’t access or had no knowledge of…I’m learning a lot, I’m getting the tools and knowledge I need to succeed. They’re very hands-on, I can go to them with any question and if they don’t know they’ll direct me to the person with the answer.” ― B-TAP Client, 2016 evaluation interview
Through the City of Minneapolis’ Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP), the City contracts with local non-profit business development organizations to provide direct technical assistance services to entrepreneurs to help them start, sustain, and expand their businesses in Minneapolis. Daniel Bonilla, the staff lead for B-TAP wanted to better measure the impact of this program and to find ways to improve the program. Daniel and the CPED team partnered with the Minneapolis Innovation Team to conduct a program evaluation.
We knew that it would be critical to have both hard numbers – businesses started, jobs created – as well as insights from clients about what they found to be helpful about the service received. The core strategy for our evaluation, as for all our work, was to talk to the people most directly impacted. In July of 2016, our team, with the help of some intrepid volunteers called the 141 businesses served by B-TAP in 2014 to find out if they were still in business, how their business has changed since receiving support, and what they want the City to know about supporting small businesses.
Through this research, we found that:
- B-TAP clients are much more likely than average Minneapolis business owners to be people of color; 80% of B-TAP clients, compared to only 20% of all Minneapolis business owners
- 68% of businesses were confirmed to still be open and over 200 jobs were created
- The most important factors for business success and client satisfaction include the depth of support and how knowledgeable and supportive the technical assistance provider is.
- Measuring the City’s $277k investment in B-TAP in outcomes is the equivalent of:
- $1,352 spent per job created (205 jobs)
- <$3,000 per business still in operation
- $14 million in total additional revenue generated to local businesses
The outcomes for 2014 B-TAP clients were positive and show results comparable to average businesses throughout the metro. Given that B-TAP primarily serves minority-owned businesses, and given the current and historical disparities in business ownership and success for these groups, B-TAP does appear to have a meaningful, positive impact in supporting business development and success.