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Partnership for small businesses

Banner Staff

A new partnership between Cambridge College, Mel King Institute for Community Building and Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) has formed a program to educate small business development officers throughout the commonwealth.

The program will help accelerate the startup and growth of small businesses from under-invested communities served by MGCC.

Starting in January 2020, the partners will offer the first cycle of this program to professionals who work at community development corporations, community development finance institutes and other nonprofit community-based organizations that help entrepreneurs start and grow small businesses.

These nonprofit organizations often focus specifically on businesses led by people of color, immigrants and women as well as businesses located in lower income urban and rural areas.  The organizations also help entrepreneurs overcome key obstacles including a lack of access to capital, business networks, and formal business education.

“The dedicated professionals who work for these community-based organizations are knowledgeable about all aspects of starting and growing businesses in a range of sectors, from retail to service to construction,” said Deborah Jackson, president of Cambridge College. “They also need to know how to coach and support our entrepreneurs during this process. This is not an easy task, which is why this program is invaluable in that it is specifically designed to give entrepreneurs the knowledge, skills and professional networks required for them to thrive and succeed.”

The program will offer six full days of training in the Charlestown campus of Cambridge College. The courses will be taught by faculty from Cambridge College, practitioners in the field and attorneys from the Lawyers for Civil Rights organization, which provides free legal support to entrepreneurs. Six modules will cover subjects from business planning basics to marketing and brand management to small business coaching.

“Small business development is critical to our state’s economic future,” said Lawrence D. Andrews, president and CEO of Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. “MGCC is supporting this program because we know it will help our community-based and economic development partners across the state offer outstanding support to local entrepreneurs.”

The new program is open to anyone working as a business counselor or technical assistance provider to small businesses. Program partners anticipate that most of the participants will be employees from the 47 nonprofit organizations that currently receive state funding from the Small Business Technical Assistance program MGCC administers. MGCC will support the implementation of this program with the aim of increasing the technical capability of technical assistance providers statewide, allowing them to more effectively provide culturally appropriate resources and customized services to underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“We are excited about the innovative nature of this partnership among a local university, a quasi-public state agency and a nonprofit organization like ours,” said Shirronda Almeida, director of the Mel King Institute for Community Building. “Our organization is dedicated to eliminating economic inequities based on race, gender and geography and we think this program — by helping more people start and grow successful businesses — will help us get there.”

Edited by Banner staff