ATLANTIC CITY — The administration rolled out a new small-business training course for city residents Monday night, with plans to have classes begin next month.
The nine-week Small Business Academy is free to city residents and will teach students best practices for starting independent business ventures. The program, scheduled to begin March 24, is being offered by the Mayor’s Office in partnership with the Stockton University Small Business Development Center, Atlantic Cape Community College, SCORE and the Latin American Economic Development Association.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. said giving city residents the access to resources and education required to start and operate a small business was a need identified by the administration months ago.
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Combined with a citywide job fair scheduled for the spring, Small said the goal is to increase employment opportunities and expand the local economy.
“When we were given the opportunity to come into the Mayor’s Office, we wanted to govern different, we wanted to think bold,” Small said during Monday’s information session. “People pay for these services, they hire consultants. We wanted to give back to the good people of Atlantic City.”
The Small Business Academy is centered on comprehensive business education, a network of support and access to capital, said Bruce Weekes, director of constituent services for the Mayor’s Office.
The training course mirrors similar efforts introduced in places such as Camden, where Jamila Powell, program manager for LAEDA’s Women’s Business Center, has worked with city residents to launch successful small businesses. Powell said the training course is designed for a range of entrepreneurs.
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The program curriculum includes classes on creating a business plan, marketing and branding, credit and banking, accounting and financial planning. A networking event and a business owners’ panel are also scheduled.
The academy will conclude with a business pitch competition and a graduation ceremony.
“So the good part about these seminars and workshops is these are the types of programs that can work for anyone who is starting a business all the way to someone who is trying to refine their business, who thinks they’re stuck in business and wants to get to the next level,” Powell said.
Weekes said the city would like to hold the business academy at least four times a year.
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“You’ll be the first graduating class, and the thought is to create an alumni network,” he told the roughly 35 people who attended the information session at City Hall. “So you can reach back to the new class and come back to speak. We want to create an environment of collaboration in Atlantic City.”
Weekes was asked by a resident about the impact the change of government referendum would have on the program. He said the business course will be offered as long as the current administration can provide it, but a change in government would likely cause the program to stop.
The weekly classes will be 90 minutes to two hours long, depending on the material. Classes will rotate between the city campuses of Stockton and Atlantic Cape.
Registration for the Small Business Academy is required. For more information, call the Mayor’s Office at 609-347-5400 or email Weekes at bweekes@ cityofatlanticcity.org.