Columbus City Mayor Andrew Ginther has announced an increment in the investment to Accelerate Columbus, a small business and entrepreneurial development training program, from $675,000 to $925,000, a 37% increment, as application has opened for the 2024 program.
“Seeing the success, the demand and need for Accelerate Columbus, the city increased its investment to $925,000, a 37% increase.” Mayor Andrew Ginther told the New Americans magazine.
“From 2019 to this time, Accelerate Columbus now features programming from 10 entrepreneurial support organizations offering expertise in childcare, web development and marketing. To be eligible, businesses must be located in the city.”
The Accelerate Columbus Program is a vital initiative that continues to foster the growth of small businesses in Columbus. Accelerate Columbus 2024 will feature ten leading entrepreneurial support organizations. This program offers a variety of small business training programs provided at no cost to Columbus-based businesses. The Accelerate Columbus Program offers invaluable support to these small businesses, helping them navigate challenges and thrive in our dynamic local economy.
Mayor Andrew Ginther spoke with the New Americans magazine team of Deba Uwadiae, Taiwo Akinlami and Eki Uwadiae.
Back in 2019 the city did a small business agenda after talking to a bunch of business entrepreneurs for needs in small businesses in Columbus. There were three major areas that we identified as challenges or needs for small businesses in Columbus.
There was a lack of awareness for small business resources, a gap in small business training and lack of capital readiness. In response, the city piloted the Accelerate Columbus later that year.
During the pandemic, we launched in partnership with the County, the private sector, the Recovery Advisory Committee to lay out recommendations for a more dynamic and inclusive recovery.
After the great recession, the recovery was not dynamic and inclusive. Folks that were well positioned, that have lots of access to capital resources recovered much faster than many others, particularly small, minority and new American businesses.
We wanted, as we were coming back from the pandemic, and the economic fall out from the pandemic, to have a more dynamic and inclusive recovery.
We recognise the need for continued support for businesses. Businesses were having difficulties hiring workers and qualifying for financial assistance. The same businesses were no longer receiving COVID, small business grants and adjusted interest rates started to climb and increase.
So, we relaunched the Accelerate Columbus in 2023 providing $675,000 to seven entrepreneurial support organizations to provide training for minority owned, women owned and kind of mainstream businesses. Seeing the success, the demand and need for Accelerate Columbus, the city increased its investment to $925,000, a 37% increase.
From 2019 to this time, Accelerate Columbus now features programming from 10 entrepreneurial support organizations offering expertise in childcare, web development and marketing. To be eligible, businesses must be located in the city. Folks can apply on www.columbus.gov/accelerate.
If you are starting a business or starting from home, and as long as you have a Columbus address you can apply for it.
We have received great feedback, and the demand continues to grow. We are very fortunate to have Director Mike Stevens working with Director Jason who heads diversity and inclusion for the city, and then we’ve been blessed with a great council advocate and partner, Nick Bankston. He has really been helping to promote this and working alongside us and providing the resources. I tell this all the time; Mayors can propose whatever they may want but if council doesn’t appropriate money it doesn’t happen. He has been a great champion and advocate for resources. That is why we went from a couple of thousands of dollars to $675,000 to $925,000 and grown the number of entrepreneurial support organizations overtime as well. The demand is there, the need is there, and we have seen the result.
This is the blessings of becoming a much more diverse city because we know that new Americans are disproportionately reflected in entrepreneurial and start ups and small businesses. Eighty percent of their businesses have fewer than 15 employees. Success for me looks like more entrepreneurial startups, more small business growth and more small businesses being created. And also, more small businesses are growing, hiring more people. This is all part of our strategy. A lot of people forget that nearly 78 percent of our general fund that pays for police officers, fire fighters, refuse, public health, and recreation parks comes from income tax. If people aren’t working good paying jobs basic city services are under threat and vulnerable. We believe that growing small businesses and hiring more people help us protect basic city services and make our city safer, cleaner, and healthier.
Translating what is in the application materials into different languages is something we need to think about. We are in the process of being certified as a Welcoming City. We’ve already applied. Folks are coming later this year to kind of interview us, make sure that we really are a Welcoming City. Certainly, that is something I will follow up with to make sure that the application materials are in a variety of languages and people can submit them in different languages.
We are working closely with a variety of different groups and other partners that work with small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups to get the word out and make more folks realize that they can apply and take advantage of it. We’ve seen the demand grow over the several years and we feel the sky is the limit. We will continue to invest and make sure it is meaningful and impactful for entrepreneurs and small businesspeople.
There is going to be a whole lot of resources and services available for them, certainly web development and childcare for both those who want to become childcare providers or if they are center operators. I tell people that 1.8million women left the workforce at the beginning of the pandemic and have not come back because of the lack of access to high quality and affordable childcare. Also, 41 percent of our centers in Columbus closed at the beginning of the pandemic. It is a huge issue. There is a huge demand and not enough supply. If childcare is a barrier to hiring a high quality employee, we want to help connect them to resources so we can get them to workplace, grow their businesses and create jobs.
We are really excited by the impact. Because so many new Americans are in the small businesses and entrepreneurial space, this is a great resource for the new American community, it is a great thing for women owned and other small businesses. This is a much more diverse international city. For us to really grow our economy we have to be able to leverage some of our assets and resources. With respect to small business and entrepreneurship it has always been the new Americans in the history of this country that came here, wanted to create business, create job and startup companies. That is the beauty of having new Americans being part of the community.
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