For almost 10 years, SBDC StartSmart™, an eight-week small business education program, has been a staple for new and emerging entrepreneurs who want to learn to plan, market and manage their businesses. Wells Fargo has been the statewide sponsor of the program since 2007, and with their financial support, many small business owners and prospective owners have graduated from the program across Georgia.
“We are proud to celebrate 10 years of support and partnership with the SBDC. Together, we have helped educate more than 900 Georgia entrepreneurs through the StartSmart™ program and provided them with the tools and resources they need to achieve their financial and business goals,” said Laurel Briglevich, Wells Fargo Senior Community Development Officer.
Support from local Wells Fargo bankers has also been a key to StartSmart’s™ success. Susan Hunnicutt, Wells Fargo’s market president in Augusta, has attended every graduation in Augusta to wish the students well and to encourage them on in their business endeavors. “Starting a business can be extremely overwhelming, and most people don’t know where to start,” said Hunnicutt. “StartSmart™ does a great job of giving our small business owners the boost they need to get their businesses started off on the right foot.”
Kimberly Knight of the Georgia Department of Economic Development recently observed the program and noted, “I highly recommend the Small Business Development Center’s StartSmart™ program to new or potential business owners. With in-depth classes taught by professionals who have real-world experience in disciplines ranging from legal to finance to marketing, the program offers powerful tools to help small businesses thrive.”
John Curry of Buona Caffe in Augusta enrolled in the program in 2011 and recalls, “StartSmart™ taught us that we should regularly look at our processes and make them more efficient. The lessons that I learned through StartSmart™ definitely contributed to our success.”
Eric Bonaparte, associate director at the UGA SBDC, recalls, “in the beginning, the concept of community development through entrepreneurial training was a little new. The Wells Fargo partnership allowed for a full economic development strategy in communities across Georgia.”
StartSmart™ programs are routinely held in Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah each year. Recently, Wells Fargo has expanded their support, partnering with the SBDC in three metro Atlanta cities. The financial support Wells Fargo provides offsets the costs of delivering the program.