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VOL. 131 | NO. 250 | Friday, December 16, 2016

Memphis Chamber Announces Program to Assist Minority-, Women-Owned Businesses

By Patrick Lantrip

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At a press conference fittingly held at the National Civil Rights Museum, The Greater Memphis Chamber announced their newest pilot program Thursday, Dec. 15: the Ascend Memphis Business Development Pilot Program.

Senior vice president of Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle Shea Flinn spoke at a press conference announcing the chamber’s newest program - the Ascend Memphis Business Development Pilot Program. The program will pair local, small, minority or women-owned businesses with established businesses from the Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle to provide business development assistance.

(Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)

The program will pair local, small, minority or women-owned businesses with established businesses from the Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle to provide business development assistance.

For the program’s inaugural year, 15 “member” businesses were chosen to partner with “leader” businesses from the Chairman’s Circle.

The pair will work over the course of a year to enhance the capability of program participants to be competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success and contribute to the strength and vigor of the local economy.

“The idea is to build capacity and help them to secure bigger contracts, greater contracts and have the ability to be able to secure them,” said Beverly Robertson, principal of TRUST Marketing.

Robertson’s company was recruited by the Chamber to manage the new program.

“As Phil (Trenary, chamber president) tells me every day – we do not replicate, we facilitate,” Greater Memphis Chamber senior vice president Shea Flinn said. “We go out and find the best partner we can.”

Robertson was chosen in part because of her experience running a successful minority-owned business.

“This is going to be something that is going change the economy of Memphis,” Flinn said. “It’s going to create jobs, it’s going to create equality, and we couldn’t do it without Beverly.”

While participating in the 12-month program, the member businesses will work with their partner business to establish a time-specific action plan that will addresses the needs of the member business. The two businesses will also meet once a month to discuss progress.

After the initial 12-month process ends, the Ascend program will follow up with the member business for a year to identify what were some of the tangible successes and hardships they faced, such as capital acquisition, technical difficulties, increases in contracts and employee base growth.

“This is really a historic moment in the life of this city,” Robertson said. “This new program is going to improve the plight, not just of the small business that participate in it, but the lives of the people who will be impacted by it. This program is not about helping one or two businesses – it’s about helping to reduce poverty in the city, it’s about building economic prosperity.”

Although only 15 business were chosen this year, Trenary said that the program will need to ramp up to include 50 to 60 participants a year in the near future.

This year’s Chairman’s Circle leader businesses are Baker Donelson, Barnhart Crane, Carlisle Corp., Commercial Advisors, Data Facts, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Duncan-Williams, Highwoods Properties, International Paper, Johnson Controls, Kemmons Wilson Cos., Linkous Construction, Power & Telephone Supply, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and SouthernSun Asset Management.

The minority and women-owned businesses chosen to participate are 1Source, Evaporcool, Hagler Bruce & Turner, PLLC, Healthcare Institute, Industrial Equipment & Specialties, Jones & Tuggle, Neighborhood Pro Builders, Nickson General Contractors, Right Resource, Stragistics Technology, The Burger Joint, Think Inspired, TopCat Contractors, True Concierge and X-Cel Business Products.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396