PROPEL: A New Chamber and SBDC Initiative

PROPEL:  A New Chamber and SBDC Initiative
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads are launching a new and dynamic economic development tool to the region for small business owners next week.

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads are launching a new and dynamic economic development tool to the region for small business owners next week. 

PROPEL, a small business mentor-protégé program, is also substantially supported by the Entrepreneur Organization, SunTrust Bank and the Retail Alliance aimed at increasing the strength and viability of businesses already in operation.

“By marrying the assets and capabilities the Chamber, with those of our partners, this program will capitalize on the tremendous resources the community has to help small business owners grow and manage their businesses,” said Bryan Stephens, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce President & CEO.  “Given the economic challenges this region will be facing in the near and long term, PROPEL is the right program, at the right time help this critical segment of our economy.  In all things we do, we’re working to set the conditions that secure a strong, diversified regional economy.”

A small business mentor-protégé program, PROPEL, is designed to provide existing small business owners with education and training through its “Boot Camp” as well as technical assistance provided by the SBDC and mentoring provided by area successful business owner.  Classes are slated to begin in March 2015.

Developed by Doug Minter, in cooperation with the Knoxville, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, the program has proven success.  Program participants created 90 new jobs and more than $50 million in economic impact for that region since 2009.  The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to replicating those results here in Virginia.

Funding support for this program is being provided through a Portable Assistance Grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration coupled with a donation from SunTrust Bank.  Mark Johnson of SunTrust Bank who alerted the SBDC to the existence of this program and recommended that it should be further reviewed.

Unlike other programs that focus on a specific portion of the marketplace, such as technology or “second-stage” companies, PROPEL is designed to help start-ups grow into first-stage companies and for first-stage companies to advance to the second-stage.  Owners from a wide array of businesses may participate.  Here in Hampton Roads, there will be two separate education tracks, one specifically focused on the retail-restaurant communities and another track that covers all other business types.

Participants will attend a seven-week entrepreneurial “boot camp” with each half-day class covering: 

  • Cash Flow Principles
  • Building Revenue
  •  Sales Training/Business Development Principles
  • Marketing Training
  • Practicing Economic Inclusion for Growth
  • DISC Personality Profile
  • How to be a Good Protégé

Following the “boot camp”, protégés will be partnered with Mentor who will take them through the second phase of this structured program.  Meeting monthly, the Mentor-Protégé relationship will last from two to three years.

For more information on this program, contact Jim Carroll at 664-2595.

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