INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has secured federal funding to offer new services for minority-owned businesses.

According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, roughly $2 million in federal and state funds will be invested toward helping minority-owned businesses over the next four years.

Neesheka Gray, who opened her Indianapolis salon Black Lotus Hair Company in January, said minority business owners face some additional challenges.

“I think it’s fair to say that many minorities face the same inequitable funding,” she explained. “We lack business relationships with banks that are fair and equitable.”

Indiana officials say they’ve seen a growing number of minority business owners seeking support.

About a third of the businesses that worked with the state’s Small Business Development Center last year were minority-owned, according to David Watkins, vice president of small business for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

This $1.6 million federal grant will help businesses across the state, Watkins said.

“Trainings, workshops, one-on-one counseling with minority-owned businesses in the state to help them grow their sales, secure new contracts, explore new markets,” Watkins explained.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is contributing about $400,000 to the effort, he added.

The U.S. Commerce Department has announced it’s distributing $5 million across the U.S. to open more minority business centers.

“If we found ways to eliminate the barriers that held back minority businesses, we could add an additional $6 trillion to the economy,” said Don Graves, deputy commerce secretary.

Business owners like Gray say they hope the new resources will help break down those barriers.

“I’d like to see some small business coaching,” Gray said. “Maybe some accounting for those of us who have started our businesses and want to fine-tune that. And I’d like to see, again, loans at fair rates for people.”

State officials are hoping to launch these programs early next year, Watkins said.