$15K in Loan Funds to be Awarded to 3 Local Ventures as Part of the Johnson College of Business & Economics’ Start:ME Community-Based Accelerator Program

Three local businesses will share $15,000 dollars in peer-based loan funds as part of the Start:ME Spartanburg program, a partnership between the Johnson College of Business and Economics and the Northside Development Group. Winners of the loans will be announced on May 1st, 2021 at the 5th annual Start:ME Showcase & Graduation. Over the past 14 weeks, 14 promising micro-entrepreneurs in Spartanburg’s Northside community completed an extensive mentoring and business training program offered through the Start:ME program.

The Start:ME program provides business training, mentorship support, and early-stage financing to promising micro-entrepreneurs (those with 1-4 employees) to develop viable and sustainable businesses. Entrepreneurs supported one another while competing for peer-selected loan funds from a $15,000 pool.

The entrepreneurs selected to receive peer-selected loan capital to help grow their businesses will be announced on Saturday, May 1st at the Start:ME Graduation and Showcase at the Hub City Farmers’ Market. Start:ME entrepreneurs will be selling their goods and services at the market from 8am to noon; the graduation ceremony will begin at 9:00am.

In addition, awards for Pitchitorian, Community Impact, Peer of the Year, and Alumni of the Year will be awarded.

Micro-businesses represented in the 2021 Start:ME Spartanburg Cohort include professional concession and catering services, beauty products and services, medical billing services, boutique clothing, personalized gifts, books, and more. Thirty dedicated mentors volunteered from many local businesses including Grace Management Group, Milliken & Company, TD Bank, Michelin, Piedmont United Way as well as Start:ME Spartanburg alumni companies.

The program is offered annually by University of South Carolina Upstate’s Johnson College of Business and Economics in partnership with the Northside Development Group. Other local partners, including the Northside Voyagers, Spartanburg District 7, Carolina Foothills Credit Union, and Community Works SC, played critical roles in supporting Start:ME entrepreneurs.

The year’s cohort marks the fifth year of the Start:ME program in Spartanburg’s Northside. To date, the program has supported more than 70 local businesses and awarded nearly $100,000 in capital investment into the community through peer-selected loans and matched-savings.

The national Start:ME network includes programs run in five neighborhoods in Spartanburg, Atlanta, and Cincinnati. Nationally, Start:ME has supported over 375 micro-entrepreneurs and awarded more than 50 start-up loans and grants.

For more information on Start:ME Spartanburg, please visit www.startmespartanburg.com.

2021 Start:ME Spartanburg Cohort Stats & Facts
• 14 micro-entrepreneurs representing 14 different micro-business ventures
• 100% women
• 100% minority-owned
• $15,000 loan investment pool allocated based on peer-selection
• 30 Spartanburg business leaders serving as mentors / coaches
• 14 weeks of programming (meets once per week) from January through April

Start:ME Spartanburg Impact Stats & Facts
• 75 micro-entrepreneurs representing 71 different micro-business ventures
• 77% women-owned
• 99% minority-owned
• $75,000 peer-selected loan investments awarded
• > 100 jobs created or retained
• > 70 Spartanburg business leaders serving as mentors / coaches
• 8 brick-and-mortar location grand openings for alumni entrepreneurs


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