Chamber launches year-long mentorship program for minority-owned businesses

Ascend Business Development Program, a year-long pilot program to assist minority- and women-owned businesses is in place.
Announced in December by the Greater Memphis Chamber, the program pairs 15 businesses from the Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle with 15 minority or women-owned businesses for business development assistance.
The overarching goal of the program is to increase the success rate for small businesses in Memphis and Shelby County.
“Over the past year there have been many discussions on what it would take to be successful at helping small, minority- and women-owned businesses grow,” said Chamber president and CEO Phil Trenary in a statement. “The answer always came back to connecting companies with the business leaders in our community who could offer their guidance, knowledge of resources, contacts and best practices.”
Participating Chairman’s Circle companies include Baker Donelson, Barnhart Crane, Carlisle Corporation, Commercial Advisors, Data Facts, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Duncan-Williams, Highwoods Properties, International Paper, Johnson Controls, Kemmons Wilson Companies, Linkous Construction, Power & Telephone Supply, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and SouthernSun Asset Management.
Businesses receiving free mentoring include 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.
The paired companies will work together for the next 12 months to help make the minority- and women-owned companies more competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success and contribute to the strength and vigor of the local economy.
The program came in response to Congressman Steve Cohen’s 2016 bid to the Chamber to take a lead in growing minority- and women-owned businesses in Memphis. The Chamber conducted a nationwide evaluation of best practices to find the most effective programs.
“We couldn’t be happier about the response and commitment from our Chairman’s Circle members and member companies who are participating in this program,” said Trenery. “I have no doubt we will see great results from these business relationships.”
Minority-owned TRUST Marketing created and is managing the program. Its team, led by Howard and Beverly Robertson, will help the participating businesses throughout the process.
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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.

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