The Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce got a helping hand for its “Step Up Program” from Georgia’s two senators.
Senators, Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) secured $250,000 in funding through the Infrastructure Investment Act for the local chamber.
“It helps us to just further our mission, here at the Chamber, to build our programs, which is all about making sure our business owners are getting training that will make them competitive and continue to grow or sustain their business,” said Ronic West, president and co-founder of the GABCC. “Training has always been a component of the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce since its inception. And this has allowed us to expand not only the training component, but also our one-on-one mentoring sessions with business owners.”
The Step Up Program is a 12-month, hybrid program to give prospective and current business owners the tools and knowledge to succeed. Some sessions will be in-person, while some are virtual. Augusta Technical College will be one of the main locations for the classroom training. The first class will be held on Aug. 31.
“Working closely alongside the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce, Senator Warnock and I brought Republicans and Democrats together to expand access to entrepreneurship and opportunities for business owners in Augusta and across the region,” Sen. Ossoff said.
Sen. Warnock added, “This bipartisan investment will go a long way towards bridging the gaps in economic disparities for Augusta’s Black entrepreneurs and small business owners, and in turn will benefit all Georgians in the region.”
West said, at this point, the Step Up Program is strictly training. There is no financial component, although that could be added in the future. However, completing this training gives current and prospective business owners a credential to demonstrate their commitment to their business.
“Even though this particular program right now doesn’t have monetization, it doesn’t mean that it may not come. On top of that, we’re always sending out emails to our members,” she explained. “We understand the access to capital problems. And we’re always making sure we’re bringing in those folks that can talk about ways to alleviate the access to the capital problem.”
She added the training can also provide them with the knowledge of where to find funding.
“Because once you get those pieces, you’ll start realizing those resources, and access to capital becomes less of a burden for you,” she said. “Because now, you’ll be connected to those resources automatically. You’ll say, ‘Oh, I can call this one or I can go apply here.’ Or you’re watching your dollars and you understand better financially.”
West said although the GABCC focuses on minority-owned businesses the Step Up Program is open to everyone. Register at: www.mygabcstepupprogram.org