CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County is working to help small businesses take big leaps with two new programs.
Barely two years old the programs already have some big success stories.
Both of these county programs target minority and women-owned businesses with the goal of helping them land contracts the owners never thought possible.
Marshae Smith runs a branding and marketing firm that just celebrated five years in business. She said the Mecklenburg County program called the Business Launch Pad literally launched her company onto a new playing field.
“I found a ton of resources that have really helped me to stabilize my business and grow my business and I’ve been very grateful," she said.
Smith said the Business Launch Pad helped her navigate how to compete for – and land government contracts.
“Mecklenburg County has really helped us to get that seat at the table," she said. "I has been an absolute game-changer for sure.”
Since launch, a spokeswoman for the county said the Business Launch Pad has created 45 jobs and graduates have been awarded 46 contracts amounting to $4 million in new work.
Ebone Lockett, the CEO of Harvesting Humanity, said the Business Launch Pad taught her some of the basics she needed to be successful.
“Prior to that I was very intimidated of government contracting even at the local level," Lockett explained. "Getting to the business side of it, understanding all the things you need to understand to be a successful entrepreneur those were the things I was lacking. It gave me an opportunity to dig in, [and] learn how to price."
Jenelly Rosales, the Program Officer with the Mecklenburg County Office of Economic Development, said the county’s other program, Get Up and Grow, works to help businesses grow by obtaining loans and other necessary capital.
“We’re working to get more minority women-owned businesses involved in the contracting space for sure," Rosales said. "They need that push, need to develop a strategic growth plan to enable business owners to grow revenue beyond $125,000.”