Business Legends

Dr. Michelle I. Spain

Dr. Michelle I. Spain is a groundbreaking educator and advocate with a passion for equipping underserved groups and students with the tools to thrive as business owners. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University in Applied Human Development, her dedication extends beyond academia to actualizing economic sustainability for communities.

Her legacy includes the foundation and direction of transformative entrepreneurship projects, notably for ex-offenders and those with developmental challenges. Dr. Spain’s accolades include the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Advocate of the Year” and spearheading international trade missions tailored for minority entrepreneurs.

Among her stellar initiatives, she established the African American Male Small Business Institute, focusing on supporting African American and Latino-Hispanic men post-incarceration, pushing for governmental and union backing for entrepreneurial training. She also founded the Cleveland Minority Contractors’ Business Assistance Program, further supporting minority business endeavors.

Her tireless work has garnered awards like the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and a spot in Cleveland Crain’s “40 Most Influential Women.” Dr. Spain’s vast array of publications and leadership roles underscore her dedication to fostering economic growth and empowerment in communities.

#TrailblazerInEducation #ChampionForChange #EconomicEmpowerment

Onnie Martin

Onnie R. Martin of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a revered figure in the realm of business development, particularly within minority communities. A distinguished graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Martin boasts a B.S. Degree in Business Education, a M.Ed. in Education Administration, and a M.C.P. in Community Planning. He furthered his academic pursuits with studies at Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck Executive Education and Michigan State University, earning certificates from FasTrac, Next Level, and as a Certified Business Advisor.

Throughout his illustrious career, Martin held several esteemed roles. He dedicated himself as a Business Education Teacher at Cincinnati Public Schools, took on leadership roles such as the Associate to Vice President of Urban Affairs at Federated Department Store, Assistant Director of the Minority Business Development Division in Ohio, and Vice President of the Lincoln Heights Development Corporation. With an unwavering commitment to community and business empowerment, he co-founded the Miami Valley Manpower Consortium and helmed the Statewide Minority Contractors Business Assistance Program System as its Founder and Past President.

One of his most significant contributions was the foundation of the Cincinnati Minority Contractors Business Assistance Program (MCBAP). Due to his pioneering efforts, seven MCBAP centers were established throughout Ohio, inspired by his innovative 1976 concept. Additionally, under Martin’s leadership, the Ohio Statewide Minority Business Enterprise Center secured over $5 million in federal grants for the region, and was recognized as the “Top Producer” nationally for four consecutive years.

Having now retired, Onnie R. Martin’s legacy is a testament to his leadership, innovation, and deep-seated passion for fostering business opportunities, especially for minorities. His tireless commitment has left an indelible mark on Cincinnati’s business landscape.

Mary C. Myers

Mary C. Myers had a distinguished career in public service, serving as the Minority Business and EDGE Programs Coordinator at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources under Governors Voinovich, Celeste, and Taft. She also held the position of Executive Director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, working closely with President Senator Sandra Williams. Now fully retired, Mary reflects on her contributions with pride.

During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in managing contract compliance programs related to goods and services. Under her watch, the Ohio General Assembly enacted H.B. 584 for the Minority Business Enterprise Program, Governor George Voinovich issued Executive Order 97-14V for the Historically Underutilized Business Program, and Governor Bob Taft introduced the Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity Program. Mary found it fulfilling to contribute to goal-oriented initiatives that stimulated economic growth and expanded business opportunities.

Mary was deeply involved in multiple boards and committees. She served on the Statewide MBE/DBE Taskforce and was a member of several key groups, including the Enterprise Advocacy Group, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Minority Business Roundtable, Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, State Purchasing User Group (SPUG), Central Ohio Minority Transportation Office (COMTO), Minority Business Opportunity Committee (MBOC), and the Diversity Compliance Coalition of Ohio (DCCO). Her roles often involved crucial communication with state, federal, city, and local administrators to offer technical support, training, workshops, and more to the business community and governmental officials.

In her retirement, Mary remains active, volunteering for selected elected officials, traveling both domestically and internationally, and enjoying quality time with family and friends. She expresses gratitude for her many blessings.

She would like to take a moment to remember and honor the contributions of departed State MBE Coordinators and friends: Viola Terrell, Paul Duffey and Deidre Woodford.