AIKEN SC (WJBF)– The City of Aiken invests in small businesses through the Aiken Business Coalition entrepreneurship program.
“This program has literally changed my life and I’m so excited to see how my business will grow,” said Natalie Subber, owner of the business.
40 small business owners participated in the program, which is a collaboration between the Aiken Business Coalition, the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce, the City of Aiken, the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce and the County Branch of Aiken from the NAACP.
First, each entrepreneur took 10 business courses.
“The classes were phenomenal. They gave us so much information,” said company owner Erica Jones.
“We learned a lot about business credit, marketing, sales pitches. I can’t wait to use it,” said company owner Grace Preston.
After completing their courses, the business owners received grants as part of the City of Aiken’s award of the American Rescue Plan Act. Funding totaled $142,500.
“Now I have the funding to be able to get more equipment to better help the community and better help my business. I will also be able to get my website up and running,” Subber said.
“I’m behind on technology, so part of the funds will go to help me upgrade my technology,” said company owner Tera Jackson.
Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh says it’s the first such program in the state.
A brother and sister say they walk away with business knowledge and a stronger bond.
“I really couldn’t believe it. We kind of stuck on top of each other, made sure to attend classes and things of that nature. But did we both expect to get the grant? No. It’s an accomplishment,” said company owner Wayne Preston.
“I was really excited for him and can’t wait to see what this will do for his business and I think he’s excited for me as well. Our family is happy for us,” Grace Preston said.
For the next six months, business owners and program organizers will meet monthly to collaborate.