McNees Marks Fourth Year Of Black-Owned Business Program – Central Penn Business Journal

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Tuesday marked the launch of the 2024 McNees Legal Equity Advancement Program (LEAP), which is open to qualifying Black-owned and Black-controlled businesses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland.

According to a release, McNees launched LEAP in 2020 to “help qualifying businesses overcome societal barriers to growth that are caused, in part, by institutional racism.”

“Our team has had the pleasure of working with and learning from more than 20 businesses in our community since we launched this program, and we are excited to expand again this year into a new community,” Adeolu Bakare, LEAP co-chair, said in a statement. “Our goal continues to be helping Black-owned and Black-controlled businesses get started, stay operational and develop tools for sustainable growth and long-term success.”

McNees launched LEAP in southcentral Pennsylvania in 2020 and expanded the program last year to central, eastern, and western parts of the state. In central Pennsylvania, LEAP applications are being accepted from qualified businesses located in Adams, Centre, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, and York counties.

LEAP awardees gain access to nearly every practice area at McNees to help them with business needs, including business organization or reorganization, tax, employment, real estate, intellectual property, Minority Business Enterprise certification, and contract review, among others. Educational webinars, seminars, and networking opportunities are also offered to recipients.

The LEAP Request for Qualifications Portal is open through March 5. Qualifying businesses will be asked to apply for the program. Each business chosen for the program is awarded one year of free legal services.

LEAP clients from 2023 included the nation’s first Black bookstore, micro-winery, tapas restaurant, and performance venue based in Lancaster.

“Oftentimes, setting an even playing field for these businesses is what takes them to the next level,” said Benjamin Ward, LEAP co-chair. “It has been a privilege to be a small part of their success.”

McNees is a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, an organization that promotes attorney diversity in law firms and corporate law departments.  McNees has also been a longstanding supporter and sponsor of the LGBT Center of Central PA.

In 2022, McNees was the first law firm in Pennsylvania to join the Women’s Business Enterprise Center-East Supplier Diversity Council, a group that supports women-owned businesses.

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