2005-07-01 / Government / Neighborhood

Columbia entrepreneuers take the FastTrac with the city’s help

Contributed by the City of Columbia

Contributed by theCity of Columbia

Mayor Bob Coble looks on while Councilmember Tameika Isaac Devine addresses the City Office of Business Opportunities.
Mayor Bob Coble looks on while Councilmember Tameika Isaac Devine addresses the City Office of Business Opportunities.

In an effort to further stress the importance of economic development and retain small and minority-owned businesses through successful, positive collaboration, the City of Columbia and Midlands Technical College announed in early June a key initiative to enhance and promote small and minority–owned businesses in the city.

The City’s Office of Business Opportunities (OBO) and MTC introduced plans to offer FastTrac Planning—an 11–session comprehensive entrepreneurship educational program developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation—which provides entrepreneurs with business insights, leadership skills, and professional networking connections so they are prepared to expand an existing enterprise. The announcement reflected both parties’ commitment to collaboration with government, business, and higher education to encourage economic development and serve the needs of entrepreneurs.

The inaugural FastTrac Planning is a hands–on program allowing existing capitalists to work with a group of peers to improve, and in some cases, transform their businesses. Participants will work with certified facilitators with real commerce experience, who understand the challenges of operating and growing new enterprises. This session will expose participants to the best practices available in the business industry.

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble was joined by MTC President Barry Russell and Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine as all acknowledged that the City and the college are supportive of small and minority–owned businesses, and that they are proactive in helping to position entrepreneurs as the driving force behind workforce and economic development. FastTrac Planning is a key element allowing existing entrepreneurs the opportunity to streamline their business processes and analyze strengths and shortcomings.

“The city of Columbia is proud and excited to partner with Midlands Technical College for such a dynamic purpose,” Mayor Coble commented. “We are committed to ensuring that all opportunities are made available to small–business owners in our city.”

In response to the area’s critical need for an entrepreneurial program that provides an arena for individuals to sharpen the skills needed to create, manage, and/or grow successful businesses, MTC and OBO are confident FastTrac Planning will provide a platform for a flawless stream of business–to–business networking and successful, positive collaboration thereby helping to lay the foundation for economic growth and the creation of new jobs.

“FastTrac Planning will offer an essential element in the entrepreneurship growth formula for the region by blending a streamlined business progression plan with the exploration of emerging business needs,” stated Russell.

With that in mind, FastTrac Planning will aid current entrepreneurs in uncovering areas that need reinforcing and establishing a foundation from which to make future decisions. Courses will cover everything from legal aspects to penetration tactics of marketing as well as management tools, budgets, and money sources.

“The kick–off of this project has been a personal challenge for me. When we first began our discussions with Midlands Technical College, it was my hope that it would materialize into something beneficial for the small–business community,” Councilwoman Isaac Devine said. “Today marks the beginning of our partnership and, hopefully, it will benefit the city, the college and the small–business community.”

FastTrac Planning began in early June at the Midlands Technical College Northeast campus located at 151 Powell Road.

“Through the initiation of our Office of Business Opportunities, the city has shown its commitment to assisting our citizens with small–business development,” Coble further stated. “The FastTrac initiative is an excellent step towards moving our small–business economy to the next level.”

A second FastTrac planning session will begin Monday, September 12, 2005. Applications are now being accepted. Existing businesses located in the city limits of Columbia who may be preparing for the next level, developing a new product or service, hiring additional employees, or have a desire to improve overall business performance may contact the Office of Business Opportunities at 803–545–3950.

Log on to www.mtctraining.com to apply online.

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