Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chambers Unite!!!


PENSACOLA, Fla. - Sept. 21 - The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce announced a partnership Monday to help maintain and expand minority, women and small business enterprises in the Pensacola Bay Area.

Additionally, the chambers will offer a mentor-protégé program as well as host workshops, networking events, conferences and seminars with the Small Business Development Center, at the University of West Florida. Together, the groups will present 10 workshops, seminars and conferences, covering topics from construction bonding and marketing to doing business with government and education sectors. Nearly 35 percent of the Small Business Development Center's clients are racial minorities, and nearly half are woman-owned businesses.

"Our immediate objective is to strengthen the long-term stability of disadvantaged firms by focusing on those critical business skills they need to compete successfully in the marketplace," said Collier Merrill, incoming chairman of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

"Both chambers already have programs in place to assist business owners who are at a disadvantage, but by working together, we'll have a wider reach and a greater impact," added George Hawthorne, executive director of the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce. "Together, we will grow minority business opportunities and better educate participants about the resources available to them."

The mentor-protégé program will pair disadvantaged companies with a mentor who specializes in their industry sector. The program will pilot pairings in construction, accounting, insurance, banking/finance and retail.

Both the mentor-protégé program and the workshop series will be highlighted through a strong marketing campaign to increase outreach and awareness to all segments of the community.