The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads (SBDC) are launching a new and dynamic economic development tool to the region for small business owners beginning May 1.
PROPEL, an innovative small business mentor-protégé program, is designed to provide existing small business owners with education and training through its seven-week entrepreneurial “boot camp,” as well as technical assistance provided by the SBDC and mentoring provided by area successful business owners. It is also substantially supported by the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization, SunTrust Bank and the Retail Alliance. The goal of this program is to increase the strength and viability of businesses already in operation thus enabling them to expand and grow.
Jim Carroll, the Chamber’s Vice President for Small Business and the Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center said, “Having a proven team of Zack Miller, who has a proven record of success directing HATCH, and Ben Salomonsky who started the Center’s highly successful Retail Academy Initiative, provides the program with a depth of knowledge, experience and leadership which will serve those who participate in PROPEL well. Their guidance, coupled with the tools provided by the SBDC and the guidance provided by highly successful business men and women serving as mentors, gives participants focus, knowledge and networking which will help them take their businesses to the next level.”
Developed by Doug Minter, in cooperation with the Knoxville, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, the program has proven its success through increased economic growth in a variety of businesses throughout the Innovatiion Valley Region of Tennessee. 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 and the other organizations partnering in this program are 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 mentoring tracks, one specifically focused on the retail-restaurant communities and another track that covers all other business types.
Interested in being a protégé?
PROPEL is seeking Commercial and Retail small businesses from $100,000 to $1 million in gross revenues. Expect to gain valuable real time classes, technical assistance and mentoring from Hampton Roads most successful firms. The duration of the program is two years and the cost is $900 per year and includes membership either in the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce or the Hampton Roads Retail Alliance.
Interested in being a mentor?
PROPEL is seeking established, successful professionals and large firms to mentor small businesses. Be a part of the growth of locally owned small businesses and increase the economic development growth of Hampton Roads by giving “one day of service” over the course of a year to a growing small firm. In doing so, expect to grow your networks and gain additional small business vendors.
The deadline for applying to be a protégé or mentor is April 27, 2015. If you have any questions, please contact Jim Carroll at (757) 664-2595.