Vibrant cities require a diverse mix of businesses to thrive and to grow, including small, high-growth tech and mid-market companies. These organizations play a critical role in increasing employment opportunities, particularly for inner city–also referred to as core city–communities, where the impact of the last recession hit hard. In these locations, aspiring entrepreneurs and their businesses often require additional guidance and capital to grow, become highly profitable and create jobs in their communities.

Core City: Cleveland was launched by JumpStart in 2016, in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation and the Small Business Administration, with the goal of increasing our region’s core city entrepreneurs’ connectivity to high-value business resources. This collection of resources includes capital providers, contract procurement support, business advisors, mentors, industry-specific accelerators/incubators and research facilities.

In partnership with more than 50 entrepreneurial resource providers and grass roots community and civic organizations, JumpStart reached 250+ entrepreneurs through workshops, provided one-on-one office hour assistance to 146 entrepreneurs and made more than 50 direct connections. We’re also proud to share that 90 percent of Core City clients responding to our survey rated the services and mentorship provided as either good or excellent.

We’re particularly thrilled with some of the early successes of the entrepreneurs in our Core City Impact Program, a 12-week business assistance program consisting of a small group of aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners that learn together and work together. These entrepreneurs have secured capital, increased their revenue, created new jobs within their communities.

After great success in its first year, we are excited to continue the program in 2017. Here’s what you can expect from JumpStart’s Core City: Cleveland program this year:

Free Value-Creating Workshops
There will be several targeted, high-impact business workshops held at JumpStart and in locations around the city. Programming will focus on ways to start and grow a successful business using available resources. In addition, workshops will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn in a group setting and network with like-minded individuals.

Free Individualized Guidance
Entrepreneurs and small business owners who live in or own a business in the city of Cleveland can work with our team of experts through one-on-one consultations, as well as get connected to other community business resources. In these meetings, we can help you:

• Identify key tasks for your business
• Develop a plan for achieving them
• Access the people, dollars and resources you need to grow

Accelerate Your Success And Access To Capital
We’re bringing back the popular Core City Cleveland Impact Program mentioned above. Participants selected for this three-month long business assistance program will be those who have demonstrated the desire, passion and commitment to create the most impact to the city of Cleveland and its residents in the shortest amount of time. For a participant’s perspective, read my interview with Deborah Armstrong of hand-n-hand where speaks on the value of the Impact Program.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At JumpStart, we truly believe in this philosophy; that’s why our organization, the Cleveland Foundation and the community and business resource providers are all in for working with diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform our city. But, we also need your involvement to make this transformation a reality.

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner in the city of Cleveland, don’t wait, click here to start the process of getting the guidance and capital you need to grow and create jobs in your community. In addition, applications for the Core City Impact Program are now being accepted and are due February 6th. Please email completed applications to CoreCity@jumpstartinc.org. To learn more about the 12-week program, please click here.

And don’t forget to sign up for JumpStart for Entrepreneurs, our monthly newsletter giving you more helpful advice along with local success stories and lists of local funding/networking opportunities.

Gloria Ware
Gloria leads JumpStart’s strategic efforts to create inclusive, high-impact entrepreneurial ecosystems. She brings a wealth of finance and business development expertise to the organization, along with a passion for community engagement.