Memphis will participate for fifth year in SBA Emerging Leaders program

On a visit to Memphis last year, U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills toured local company Evaporcool in regard to their green technology. Seen here Mills, (left) is shown around the factory by Rick Earles, (right) Evaporcool Director of Operations. In background center, is Evaporcool CEO, Rhett Hailey. The SBA has announced that Memphis has once again been selected to participate in the e200 program to assist small business owners. (Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal)

By James Dowd

The U.S. Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced its continued support for the e200/Emerging Leaders program, which debuted in 2008 with 11 cities and has expanded each year.

Memphis, one of the original program sites, will participate for the fifth consecutive year in the program that has helped more than 1,000 small-business owners in underserved communities across the nation.

Admission is competitive, and this year is limited to 18 participants, up from 15 in 2011. Applications will be accepted starting in mid-February and the twice-monthly sessions will begin in April at the Renaissance Center, 555 Beale.

The initiative targets inner-city companies that have been in business at least three years, post annual revenues of at least $400,000 and demonstrate above-average potential for market growth and increased job opportunities. E200 provides management training, professional contacts and financial guidance.

As has been the case in past years, Memphis is the only city in Tennessee selected to participate. The 16 other cities in this year’s program are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fresno, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Syracuse, and Youngstown, Ohio.

There are also 10 Native American communities in the program.

“We’ve had 60 graduates so far and we’re proud that Memphis has one of the highest graduation rates in the country for this program,” said Walter Perry, Tennessee SBA district director. “The key to economic growth and community development is helping expand these small businesses, which account for two out of every three net new jobs.”

Added SBA administrator Karen Mills in a statement, “Over the last few years Emerging Leaders has helped expand opportunities for many promising small businesses in underserved communities — in particular those that have been most impacted by these tough economic times. Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs and helped drive local economic growth in their communities. Continuing with this year’s lineup of new classes builds on this success and provides even more entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the support, resources and skills to succeed.”

State and local coordinators are finalizing plans for this year’s program and will host a public kickoff session in the coming weeks to promote the plan.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said the program supports local efforts to spur economic development.

“This program allows business owners who may have a great deal of technical expertise to get a better foundational knowledge of business planning and organizational methods,” he said. “It’s reinforces our mission in county government to serve as a cornerstone for the future growth of our community’s small businesses.”

– James Dowd: (901) 529-2737

Emerging 200

Sponsor: U.S. Small Business Administration

Established: 2008

Cost: Free

Details: Federal program targeting small businesses that are at least three years old with annual revenues of $400,000 or more

Contact: Call (901) 526-9300 or (615) 736-5881

Online: sba.gov/tn

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