Epicenter, Power Center CDC partner for entrepreneurs in Hickory Hill

Epicenter is head to Hickory Hill to help grow entrepreneurship and local businesses in the area.

They're partnering with Hickory Hill's Power Center CDC on their new CO.STARTERS program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Epicenter is really wanting to have impact on the different areas of Memphis, but this is their attempt to come out to Hickory Hill," said Candace Taylor, interim executive director of Power Center CDC.

“We're actually unique in that we bring this program to different neighborhoods always with a partner so that we can expand the reach and the training of the program,” said Kerri Malone, manager of Epicenter community engagement.

Taylor said there are people in Hickory Hill who want to start their own business and a be part of rebuilding Hickory Hill's thriving business community, but many are unsure how to get started or promote themselves.

CO.STARTERS is a nine-week program that will launch in Hickory Hill next spring. Its goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with insights, relationships and tools to move from a great idea to a thriving business.

“You're in the room with 10 to 12 other entrepreneurs going through the same thing. With the CO.STARTER program we're going over all that together. It's easy to follow the curriculum,” said Taylor Sherbine, community manager of Epicenter and program lead for CO.STARTERS.

The partners hope to shorten the time between idea and startup by helping participants identify key assumptions, rapidly uncover flaws in their plan and adjust their business models.

On November 9, the partners will kick off CO.STARTERS in Hickory Hill with a Get Started workshop. The three-hour workshop is a sort of preview for the full nine-week program.

The one-day event is intended to provide information for new and existing entrepreneurs. It's gear towards those just starting out, as well as entrepreneurs who are stuck in their development or in need of a refresher.

“The focus is on customer retention and customer acquisition. How do you get your customer? What are the steps that you need to acquire more customers and to make sure you keep those customers?” explained Taylor.

Taylor said they want to connect the network of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in Hickory Hill with professionals who can answer questions. Entrepreneurs can figure out what they want, what they, how to attract customers and more.

At the same time, Epicenter and Power Center get an opportunity to refine how they serve entrepreneurs in Hickory Hill and across Memphis. 

"This is a great start for us to ensure that we are hearing the needs of the business owners that are out here,” she said.

The Get Started workshop will be held at Power Center CDC, 5777 Winchester Road, on November 9. The cost is $35.

Early in 2019, Power Center CDC began seeking partnerships for a program centered on entrepreneurs.

On a recent High Ground News podcast, Taylor noted that there are many locally-owned small businesses in Hickory Hill.

Power Center wants to support existing entrepreneurs who encouraging new business development. They're especially interested in supporting residents of Hickory Hill and the surrounding communities for more neighborhood-based, micro-local businesses. 

Malone said CO.STARTERS began in Chattanooga with a company of the same name. The company licenses the program to other development groups like Epicenter. Epicenter has held a license since 2016. 

“We hold a license for the Greater Memphis Chamber. Our agreement with them is unique in that we don't just have CO.STARTERS at our physical location," said Malone. "We actually train facilitators at partner locations such as the Power Center CDC.”

"It's an off-site location where people can come and get the same quality programming and the same instructors [they'd get at Epicenter's main location],” Taylor said of the Hickory Hill work.

The full CO.STARTERS program will focus on a different business topic each week.

“There are more entrepreneurs in the city of Memphis than we think," said Taylor.

"We want to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs. We do make that assumption that all business owners have a storefront and that's not true at all.”
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Read more articles by A. J. Dugger III.

A.J. Dugger III is an award-winning journalist and native Memphian who joined High Ground as lead writer for its signature series, On the Ground, in August 2019. Previously, he wrote for numerous publications in West Tennessee and authored two books, “Southern Terror” and “The Dealers: Then and Now.” He has also appeared as a guest expert on the true-crime series, “For My Man.” For more information, visit ajdugger.net. (Photo by April Stilwell)