Being an entrepreneur is believing that anything is possible. These bold individuals see opportunity where others only see impossibility. They take risks, they learn, they grow and they dream. As communities across the nation posture themselves to promote the next big idea, Abilene has organized an innovative economic development initiative designed to help fund local entrepreneurs.
Introducing, "BE in Abilene," a collaboration of four organizations all working together to "Build Entrepreneurs in Abilene." Led and funded by the Development Corporation of Abilene, the program's goal is designed to carry out a primary objective of the city's economic development strategic plan of implementing an innovation ecosystem.
This objective is based on a need to place greater emphasis on a "homegrown approach" for promoting job creation and business investment at the local level, thereby enhancing income opportunities and the quality of life for Abilene residents.
The BE In Abilene program seeks to award up to $250,000 in cash to local entrepreneurs through a local competition. The program was organized by multiple local agencies including the Abilene Industrial Foundation, Abilene Christian University and the Small Business Development Center; each of which provide a unique resource to these aspiring individuals.
The Abilene Industrial Foundation, the city's industrial recruitment organization, has focused the program's goals with an eye to local investment and job creation, the primary function of the Development Corporation of Abilene. As with any investment from the DCOA, the AIF will work with prospective candidates to establish their business in Abilene and demonstrate their superior capacity to contribute to the local economy.
ACU's Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy will utilize the Center's Springboard judging competition as a platform for candidates to compete against one another for award monies. In its 10-year history, Springboard has awarded over $500,000 to aspiring entrepreneurs across the region and served as a way to connect, train, encourage and highlight the region's startups.
During this process, participants that advance to a second round of judging will meet with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) to utilize their business counseling services in order to compose a detailed business plan and 3-year proforma financial plan. Once complete, businesses will enter the final judging stage.
Participants that are awarded dollars will be required to complete a three-year compliance agreement with the DCOA to ensure each business meets established post award guidelines and support. This support includes receive regular meetings with the SBDC to ensure each business has the necessary tools and information to succeed. Included with this process will be a public accountability function that will ask each recipient of funds to report general metrics that will help determine the economic impact of the program.
Individuals interested in participating in the program will be able to apply online starting September 5th. For more information and to apply, please visit the BE in Abilene website.