The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce has been operating a small business Mentor –Protégé program for the past four years. Jim Carroll, Vice President Small Business for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, traveled to Knoxville in early April to observe the program.
The Propel training/mentoring program is part of an overarching economic development program that is focused on growing a broad-based sustainable economy based on the existing business community.
Propel consist of three key modules which we believe help each to be sustainable:
Assisted by the local Small Business Development Center office and the Knoxville Chamber, this program has been helping small business owners achieve outstanding results and growth.
The program starts with a seven-week long, one-half day per week class that covers topics in financial analysis, marketing and understanding personality profiles, both the participants as well as their staffs and prospective customers. Upon completion, the attendees are partnered with their Mentors who will advise them over the next two years.
By taking a holistic approach to the overall economic development of the region, the program has participants from a wide range of business types including retail, service, consulting and small construction companies. They interaction among the owners is dynamic and thought provoking as every owner approaches a problem from a different perspective.
This program has the potential to be replicated here in Hampton Roads and the Chamber and SDBC will be leading the effort to find funding support in order to bring this about.