Before opening Groundwork, I spent a considerable amount of time meeting and talking with people to understand the current landscape in New Bedford for entrepreneurs. Over and over again I heard that there are many great organizations in New Bedford, but that they operate in silos. The general feeling was many non-profits compete for the same pool of funding, and cross-organizational collaboration is rare.
The new WEB New Bedford program blows that theory well out of the water.
WEB New Bedford (WEB is for WomEntreperneurship and Business) is an 8-month accelerator cohort program that provides education and networking to New Bedford residents to grow their business. The program plans to recruit twelve participants with a focus on women and minorities living in New Bedford who are starting a business or need assistance growing their business.
Program participants will attend weekly seminars, take two Bristol Community College small business courses, get access to work here at Groundwork!, and receive support completing a business plan. Participants are also eligible to compete for seed funding of up to $1000.
Here’s where things get interesting: twelve local partners are collaborating to make this accelerator program happen. The list of partners is impressive:
- Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board
- Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
- New Bedford Economic Development Council
- Immigrant’s Assistance Center
- PACE YouthBuild
- United Way of Greater New Bedford
- GNB Career Center
- EforAll SouthCoast
- Bristol County Community College
- Community Economic Development Center
- South Coast Chamber of Commerce
It looks like we do know how to collaborate in New Bedford after all!
The WEB cohort will be exposed to all of these partner organizations and the work that they do, giving them a clear sense of the resources available to them as business owners. Trust me, that knowledge is priceless. It took me over a year of digging and research to understand the local entrepreneur landscape.
Program applications are due April 13; you can download an application online or pick one up at any partner organization. We have a bunch here at Groundwork!
So now it’s your turn:
Help us spread the word. A program is only as good as its participants, and it will take collaboration from our whole community to make this one a true success.
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