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SBA moves to spur inner city progress with ‘e200’ push

Year four of the Emerging 200 initiative is unfolding in Memphis with the aim of helping leaders and owners of small businesses in hard-pressed communities achieve their full potential. Year four of the Emerging 200 initiative is unfolding in Memphis with the aim of helping leaders and owners of small businesses in hard-pressed communities achieve their full potential.

The U.S. Small Business Administration program, dubbed e200 for short, operates in Memphis, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, Milwaukee, and New Orleans. The initiative is focused on 200 small companies across with high potential for rapid expansion and job creation.

According to the SBA, companies that will most benefit from the initiative are those that have achieved thresholds of $400,000 in annual revenue and have been in operation for at least three years. Fifteen Memphis-area entrepreneurs will be recruited to join the e200 program in 2011. Classes begin in April and will be held at the Renaissance Center, 555 Beale Street.

The program includes a 13-week curriculum that some graduates compared to “Mini MBA.”

Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will helped kick-off the 2011 program during a Town Hall Meeting at Southwest Tennessee Community College, Parrish Building, 737 Union Avenue, Room 101 at 5:30 p.m.  on Thursday (March 10).

 “We are proud that larger corporations such as Electrolux and Mitsubishi are investing in this area, but we cannot overlook the importance of entrepreneurs and small-business owners on our local economy. We see the emerging companies of today as the FedExes and the AutoZones of tomorrow,” said Wharton. “Additionally, we know that companies rooted in this community are much more likely to keep personnel and resources in this community.”

Luttrell called the initiative an excellent resource to small businesses.

“We’re grateful for the partnership Memphis and Shelby County governments have with the Small Business Administration. It’s vital we do all we can to assist small business owners throughout our community,” said Luttrell.

The e200 curriculum is designed to apply a real-world, accessible teaching approach along with a curriculum reviewed by academics and then road tested by entrepreneurs.

“Most small-business owners are well-versed in their craft, service, or industry, but not always in business operations,” said Nisha Powers, a local architect and a graduate of the program. “Developing a Strategic Growth Plan was the most valuable and tangible benefit of e200 for my firm.”

Emerging 200 training represents the SBA’s “ground breaking commitment to America’s underserved markets,” said Walter Perry, Tennessee SBA District Director.

“Helping inner city business leaders is part of our long-term economic strategy here in the Volunteer State. The SBA is in inner city neighborhoods because that’s where economic growth and job creation can make a really significant contribution,” said Perry.

SBA Office of Advocacy research and Census Bureau statistics show that small firms with fewer than 20 employees are the greatest source of net new employment in inner cities and accounted for 80 percent of the net new jobs in the economy from 1990 to 2003. In addition, small businesses in inner cities added nearly three times the number of new jobs when compared with larger companies between 1995 and 2002.

The SBA also asserts that America’s inner cities are home to more than 850,000 small and mid-size businesses.

“Inner-city businesses are relatively small in size and in revenue but they have almost unlimited capability to create jobs, raise income, and produce wealth for residents,” said Perry. “

They are vibrant operations that often provide much needed products and services for diverse inner-city communities. There’s good reason for the success of small businesses in inner cities. But by identifying and exploiting competitive advantages we will prepare inner city businesses to be profitable and well positioned to compete locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally.”

The only cost of the e200 training, mentoring, and networking is the time and commitment of the participants. All other costs of preparing, training, and assembling the initiative’s coalition are being assumed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and local partners.

Tennessee’s Small Business Administration District Office has forged a coalition of key business leaders, government organizations, and professional business associations to sponsor the e200.

 (For more information contact Saundra Jackson at 901-526-9300 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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