Lowcountry Local First (LLF) has announced a new initiative aimed towards the nonprofit organization’s mission to cultivate an economy anchored in local ownership, Good Enterprises, joining the established Good Business and Good Farming initiatives. Good Enterprises will be a catalyst for reshaping the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to one that provides equitable opportunity for business ownership, in order to transform lives and communities.
“We see this as an economic imperative for our state,” says Jamee Haley, Executive Director of LLF. “Charleston demonstrated the fifth fastest growing gap between rich and poor residents in the U.S. from 2011 – 2016, and median income levels for African American and Hispanic households in Charleston County are less than half that of white households. The current entrepreneurial ecosystem does not provide equitable opportunity — and we must change that.”
Set to launch in the fall of 2019, the first twelve-week Community Business Academy (CBA) of Good Enterprises will be held in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood of North Charleston, where LLF has been working in recent years to support local business owners. LLF’s team will be implementing the curriculum and proven model created by the Rising Tide Capital program based in New Jersey which serves more than 600 entrepreneurs per year, with an 87% survival rate beyond the five-year mark. CBA graduates looking to take their business to the next level can do so through year-round Business Acceleration Services and utilize comprehensive assistance and resources through the Credit to Capital program when ready to pursue financing options. Lowcountry Local First aims to offer Good Enterprises in both English and Spanish in the future, increasing the number of classes offered each year.
To advance this new initiative, Lowcountry Local First is seeking partnerships with organizations across the state. One such partnership has already been established with the S.C. Department of Commerce. “We’re proud to support Lowcountry Local First’s Good Enterprises program as it helps us promote an environment that encourages entrepreneurial activity,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This program will connect underserved entrepreneurs with important resources necessary for long-term business success.”
“Lowcountry Local First could not be more excited to have the support of the SC Department of Commerce,” says Haley. “With their support we will be bringing a proven curriculum and providing data-driven results that will provide an opportunity for under-resourced entrepreneurs to receive technical and financial training and the social network needed to have the highest probability of success. Ultimately, we will bring the best entrepreneurship program into the communities that can benefit the most.”
Visit LowcountryLocalFirst.org/good-enterprises to learn more or sign up for program updates. Explore ways to support the launch of the program by contacting Matt Hayden at Matt@LowcountryLocalFirst.org or 843-801-3390.