The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce is one of several diverse business organizations who are helping identify candidates and presenters for the ScaleUp Nashville program, administered by the Chamber’s Business Studio small business initiative. Business Studio, in partnership with Pathway Women’s Business Center, Refinery Nashville and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, has been given an initial award of $218,000 as part of the ScaleUp America program from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Under the five-year agreement with SBA, Business Studio will oversee an investment of more than $1 million in small business training and assistance. The federal program is designed to help existing small businesses grow and to strengthen support for entrepreneurs whose goal is to expand the economic impact of their companies on Middle Tennessee.
The partnership will be used to provide a 12-week small business course of study for two cohorts of business owners each year. Participants will work with a certified public accountant to complete a financial analysis of their businesses, meet with area-specific focus groups, and work with a mentor. Additionally, each business owner will develop a plan for strategic growth and receive coaching focused on his or her particular area of need, such as developing a strategy for accessing capital or undergoing market research. Participants do not need to be members to apply, and outreach will focus on bolstering underserved communities.
“Starting a business is tough; growing a business is even tougher,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator, SBA. “ScaleUp America offers high-potential entrepreneurs the support they need to grow their business and continue to drive job creation across the country.”
Contreras-Sweet says the focus of ScaleUp America is inclusive entrepreneurship, which means providing services to entrepreneurs from underserved communities, ensuring they have the support systems to help fuel expansion. SBA data shows women-owned and minority-owned small businesses represent one of the fastest-growing sectors of the entrepreneurial population, although these companies tend to be smaller in revenue and number of employees.
ScaleUp Nashville partner the Entrepreneur Center will provide the curriculum and training for the classes. The Entrepreneur Center’s curriculum has helped 170 companies create more than 500 jobs.
Pathway Lending is Tennessee’s largest Community Development Financial Institution and will provide financial advisors for the program, as well as technical support. Since 1999, Pathway Lending has provided more than $150 million in loans and 29,000 hours of mentoring and technical support to businesses and create jobs in communities across Tennessee.
For applications and additional information about Business Studio and the ScaleUp Nashville program, visit www.scaleupnashville.com.