Metro Atlanta Business Program Helps Local Entrepreneurs Thrive

The Start:ME Accelerator helps local businesses gain networking and management opportunities through a 14 – session initiative.

Fifty small businesses in the metro Atlanta area have been selected to participate in a program designed to help local business owners develop skills, gain insights and grow opportunities for networking.
Their owners do everything from offering an alternative food service to affordable fitness programs.
Start:ME Accelerator was designed to help close the gap between businesses run by four or less people in lower-income neighborhoods as opposed to small businesses in higher-income neighborhoods. It was developed by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School along with the East Lake Foundation, Friends of Refugees and Purpose-Built Schools Atlanta.
The 11-week training initiative takes place over 14 sessions within the metro Atlanta communities of East Lake, Clarkston and southwest Atlanta.
The business school started the initiative to create jobs and provide opportunities for business owners in the Clarkston area, the organization’s managing director, Brian Goebel, said.
“We were unsure how many people we would find to be a part of the community,” Goebel said. “During the premiere program, we saw the business owners had the ideas and initiatives they just needed more opportunities.”
Adele Ledet, a Clarkston based entrepreneur and upcoming participant in the Start:Me program, said she applied to gain business and marketing training.
“I wanted to get more insight in term of technical business applications and moving my business to the next stage,” Ledet said.  “Excess, capital and marketing are my biggest challenges as a small business owner. Through the program, I definitely want to become more business minded and strategic in my business practices.”
Since 2013, more than 200 businesses have since graduated from the program. Goebel said the success comes from covering the core basics of running an effective business.
“We work with them toward building a business plan and understanding the financing needs related to the business and pursuing some of the investments needed to grow a business,” Goebel said.
Caroline Padgett, owner of Blank Canvas Massage, believes the program will help not only her business but also her East Lake community.
“I’ll be creating jobs over time and, with any sort of extra money the business develops, [I can] give back to other organizations in the area that are happening,” Padgett said.
Goebel said he agrees the most rewarding aspect of the Start:ME Accelerator is watching the community flourish with an invetsment in loca entrepreneurship.
“When that happens all of Atlanta is able to benefit,” he said.

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