Lowcountry Local First (LLF), a nonprofit focused on economic development centered around local ownership, on Wednesday announced Bank of America has provided funding to help sustain LLF’s efforts to cultivate an economy anchored in local ownership and foster a better environment for creating and sustaining local businesses. As part of its commitment to economic opportunity, Bank of America will provide LLF with $40,000 in grant funding to support and expand its entrepreneurial work, including the Good Business and Good Enterprises Initiatives. The keystone of the Good Enterprises Initiative is the Community Business Academy (CBA), which kicked off its spring cohorts in late February.
“We had an ambitious set of goals for our Community Business Academy and its growth from day one when we launched in 2019,” says Program Director, Raquel Padgett. “The support of Bank of America ensures we reach those goals, including increasing the number of students we can serve each semester, and hiring new instructors to maintain a high-quality experience throughout.”
Even in a virtual environment, LLF’s initiatives continue to benefit area entrepreneurs who leverage program resources to grow and develop their small businesses. LLF’s Good Enterprises Initiative is a catalyst for reshaping the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem into one that provides equitable opportunity for business ownership. This includes the CBA, a 12-week program offering business planning and management training. With the ongoing support of organizations like Bank of America, LLF has been able to meet its growth plan to expand the CBA to include three cohorts, one of which will be instructed in Spanish for the first time by two CBA graduates who are reinvesting in the LLF program based on its positive impact on their businesses. The 2021 Spanish course kicked off in February, and the English courses began in March.
“The knowledge and information I gained from the program was truly invaluable,” says Tiffany Young, owner of Dazzling Desserts, and a Fall 2020 CBA graduate. “You learn how to manage a successful business, including things like record-keeping, sales projections, pricing strategies, marketing, and more. The hands-on training through the Business Simulation game we play throughout helps you understand exactly what it’s like to run a business.”
LLF’s Good Business Initiative further catalyzes businesses’ growth by fostering sustainable entrepreneurship and business development with wraparound services like collaborative workspace availability, triple-bottom-line summits and an Expertise Exchange program. The Expertise Exchange program connects small business owners with industry professionals to advise on resources that are key to small business viability, such as communications, real estate, financial planning and access to capital. Bank of America supports the Good Business initiative by connecting program participants to financial solutions that fit their business goals and advisors who offer small businesses financial expertise.
“The team at Lowcountry Local First genuinely cares about the entrepreneurs in the Good Enterprises and Good Business programs. Their work is really helping businesses succeed,” says Bank of America Small Business Banker, Garrett Reuber. “At Bank of America, we are proud of our longstanding partnership with Lowcountry Local First and the impact they are making in the small business community.”
This latest grant builds upon an earlier investment announced in 2019 when Lowcountry Local First was named as the market’s inaugural Bank of America Neighborhood Champion awardee. As part of the Neighborhood Champions recognition, Lowcountry Local First received $50,000 in grant support and an opportunity for engagement in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector.
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