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This past July, a review committee selected two recipients for the City's first Upstart Cocoa business catalyst program. The City Review Committee selected Chef's Kitchen owned by Michael Blackwell and the Diamond Square Review Committee selected Strategic Capital Consulting owned by Purvette Bryant for the Diamond Square area loan.
“We are excited to help these business grow and thrive in the City of Cocoa. By providing training and mentorship through weVenture, the City is demonstrating its commitment to economic development and a prosperous business culture,” said Cocoa Mayor Michael C. Blake.
The program is designed as a three-year forgivable loan program which awards up to $10,000 to a new startup business or a business looking to expand into the City of Cocoa. After three years of maintaining the business in Cocoa and successful completion of the program, the loan will be forgiven.
The City received 25 applications for two available loans. The review committees were comprised of an appointed community banking member and representatives from the Diamond Square CRA board, weVenture, and City staff. The committees reviewed all submitted applications and selected the recipients.
The recipients will now embark on a 24-week course with weVenture, with tuition paid for by the City. The course explores topics such as business management, finance and budgeting, marketing, product/service development, and human resources. In addition, weVenture Ignite 360® business mentors will partner with the Upstart Cocoa recipients to refine a business plan appropriate for a startup business or expanding business.
“This is a great opportunity where we work with small businesses to identify their very specific goals or outcomes that they would like to achieve to create sustainable business growth and then we pair them up with a team of mentors and work with them in a very structured way for about 6 months to help them achieve those goals,” said weVenture Executive Director Kathryn Rudloff.
For more information on the program, visit the Upstart Cocoa webpage.