36% of employees who plan to return to work will do so after up/reskilling or changing industries (Southside Chamber of Commerce data). In order to support the shifting workforce and ensure South King County retains businesses and workers, Seattle Southside Chamber is proposing a business incubator program that includes a startup package, technical assistance, mentoring as well as investment funding support. Their goal is to annually support minority micro businesses who, in turn, will re-engage as mentors upon completion to create a self-sustaining program.
Part 1: Learn
Cohorts will be formed from existing businesses all facing similar challenges, including how to attract and retain workers, build a sustainable business plan and model and utilize e-commerce. Cohorts will focus their learning in three main areas in order to develop hypothesis about how they can build and grow their business:
- General Business Assistance: Technical Assistance
- Confidence and Skill Building: Workshops and Part of the hyperlocal regional cohort model also includes peer to peer mentoring that is crucial for the long-term support. Business support services and technical assistance will be provided by the Chamber and partners.
- Finance and Marketing: Digital literacy
Part 2: Practice
Each hyperlocal cohort will have the opportunity to test and practice what they’ve learned and developed in Phase 1 in constructing their hypotheses in an environment where they have no risk or operational challenges to contend with. In this safe space of discovery, they can test multiple models and ideas before landing on the one they want to move forward for capital acquisition.
Part 3: Grow
Once a cohort member cycles through the program they are encouraged to then invest in the program as well by serving as a peer mentor for the next cohort. This model ensures that there are built in capacity and scalable interfaces where in which the cohorts build and grow from each other to be self-sustaining.
- Number businesses served (targeted): 8
- Dollars invested (targeted): $100,000
- People reached: 16-20
The Chamber is seeking partners and sponsors to support the program.