The ISO Forgivable Loan Program, facilitated by the Mid-South Quality Productivity Center (MSQPC) based out of Memphis, TN, is the kind of program that any 501c3 could dream of making a reality.
For just under 30 years, the MSQPC has been operating in partnership with the Greater Memphis Charter and the Southwest Tennessee Community College, and a Center of Emphasis for the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Executive Director and CEO of the MSQPC, Donald Fisher (PhD), oversees the ISO Forgivable Loan Program. The goal of the program is to assist minority- and female-owned companies in Memphis, which is composed of approximately 68% minorities and makes up 5-10% of the business landscape in Memphis.
Fisher secured funding to help 6 minority- and female-owned companies become ISO 9001:2015 certified in 2016. Participating Memphis-based companies had to meet certain criteria to apply, which included: city and state taxes were to be paid up to date, completion of at least three business cycles, and demonstrated growth and employment without any financial or legal disputes. The selected companies trained together as one unit to save costs. They utilized Fisher's Process Activated Training Systems.
As is the case with many companies seeking ISO certification, once the qualified minority- and female-owned companies become ISO certified they will be eligible to bid for work on a larger level as well as globally. “It not only helps them, but it helps our community,” said Fisher. Fisher proudly speaks of this 'Memphis Model,' the first program to cut costs by certifying multiple companies together as one. You can learn more by visiting their website at .® (PATS) as a guideline to document their key standards. PATS was originally developed by Fisher for the United States Postal Service.