SBA’s Emerging Leaders program: Name changes, mission doesn’t

February 13, 2013 — (right to left) James Hoffa, president of West Tenn. Ornamental Door, shows off his company’s operation to U.S. SBA chief Karen Mills. West Tenn. Ornamental Door has expanded twice in recent years. (Photo by Kyle Kurlick)

When U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills visited Memphis on Wednesday (it marked the second official visit she’s made here during her four-year tenure as SBA chief, but she’s made dozens of trips here over the years to visit her college roommate, who lives in Shelby County) and toured Jim Hoffa’s West Tennessee Ornamental Door facility, she mentioned that one of the reasons she wanted to see his particular small business is because of the SBA connections linked to his success.

Hoffa got a couple SBA-backed loans to help him grow his company and last year he participated in the seven-month e200 program that offers small business owners a chance to get intensive training and mentoring and in essence, engage in a mini-MBA program. He graduated from the e200 initiative and he credits the course with helping him refine his business plan and grow his company.

And even though it was a day early, Mills let us know that the e200 program has been rebranded as the Emerging Leaders initiative and that once again, Memphis will be participating in it. In fact, representatives from the local SBA office were on hand for the tour and affirmed that recruiting for this year’s class is already under way, with the official kickoff to be held in April.

The official announcement came today and the SBA offered additional details on the upcoming program:

The U.S. Small Business Administration launched its 2013 Emerging Leaders executive-level training initiative, formerly known as e200, in 27 cities and communities across the country.  Since 2008 the initiative has trained more than 1,300 promising small business owners in underserved communities, and continues to expand its impact helping small businesses grow and create jobs.  The city of Los Angeles is joining the initiative for the first time and Oklahoma City, Portland and Seattle are returning.

“Emerging Leaders has a proven track record of helping small businesses in underserved communities,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs and helped drive local economic growth in their communities. The addition of four major cities this year builds on this success and provides even more entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the support, resources and skills to succeed.”

The Emerging Leaders initiative has been a catalyst for expanding opportunities for both urban small business owners and Native American communities. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed participants reported an increase in revenue while 75 percent of those surveyed reported maintaining or creating new jobs in their communities.  Surveyed participants also reported having secured more than $26 million in new financing for their businesses, and an increase in confidence when applying for government contracts. As a result, nearly half of the initiative graduates reported securing federal, state and local contracts, worth more than $330 million.

In 2012 the initiative graduated more than 350 small business owners, representing the largest graduating class since it began in 2008. This year SBA will launch an Emerging Leaders alumni network to continue the business-to-business connection and continuous learning.

The seven-month executive leader curriculum includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and financial communities. Local recruitment for the 2013 training cycle started February 1 through SBA district offices, and classes are scheduled to begin in April.

The cities hosting Emerging Leaders initiative classes in 2013 include:

 Urban Markets

  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Baltimore, Md.
  • Boston, Mass.
  • Chicago, Ill.
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colo.
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Fresno, Calif.
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Minneapolis, Minn.
  • New Orleans, La.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • St. Louis, Mo.
  • Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Youngstown, Ohio

 Native American Communities

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Farmington, N.M.
  • Helena, Mont.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Seattle, Wash.
  • Tulsa, Okla.

For more information about Emerging Leaders, or to contact the respective local SBA District office at 901-526-9300 or visit .

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