The JAX Chamber this morning announced the creation of JAX Bridges, a supplier development program that will connect small businesses with mentoring, capital access and contacts with larger companies to help earn business with established corporations.
The program is designed to be the key facilitator of supplier quality and development in Northeast Florida, helping smaller companies grow and promoting supply chain diversification among corporations, said Carlton Robinson, senior director of the JAX Chamber Entrepreneurial Growth Division.
“This program benefits everyone involved,” Robinson said. “Small companies are looking for growth opportunities and access to the larger companies in the region. Larger companies want to help develop local business and know that when our small businesses expand and create jobs in our community, we all benefit.”
There are two main components to making this program successful: getting small businesses prepared for the opportunity and encouraging large corporations to give these companies an opportunity to earn the business.
“You can’t just tell corporations to do this because you think it’s the right thing to do,” said Derek Lott, senior director of supplier diversity for BI-LO Holdings. “This has to make business sense and this program will get small businesses ready so it will make business sense for larger corporations looking for suppliers.”
The goal of the program is to facilitate $100 million in contracts to small businesses annually, Robinson said.
The program will use several key strategies to move toward that goal.
- Access to Capital: The JAX Chamber has reached agreements with several local lending institutions to provide unique opportunities to qualified small businesses, including access to lines of credit and the ability to use signed contracts as collateral to borrow money for operating costs.
- Business Exchange: A connection program that will include listings of available contracting opportunities and provide a forum for smaller businesses to develop relationships with large corporations.
- CEO Roundtable: Discussions between top executives across Northeast Florida about ways to grow and develop small businesses.
- Entrepreneurial Education: Trainings and courses helping small businesses with a growth plan and elements they will need to succeed in earning – and keeping – business.
- Teaming Preparation: Will use the established model of the Florida 8(a) Alliance to train business owners to partner with established companies.
“The Chamber is uniquely positioned to connect small business with opportunities, and help with meaningful training and relationships with the corporate leaders in our community,” said John Delaney, University of North Florida President and incoming chair of JAX Chamber. “This is one of those ideas that sounds like a no-brainer, but if you look around the country no one else is doing it. I look forward to partnering with the Chamber on this new initiative and to seeing the positive economic benefits it will bring to our community.”
The program helps complement the city's programs, such as Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business (JSEB) program and Business Builder events, said Ted Carter, economic development director for the City of Jacksonville.
"It's encouraging to see more private sector participation in supplier diversification and Mayor Brown looks forward to continuing to partner with the Chamber to continue to grow businesses and create jobs in Jacksonville," Carter said.
jaxbridges aligns directly with the region’s 5-year strategic economic development plan, Innovate Northeast Florida. Over the past two years the goal of Innovate has been to drive regional job creation in each target industry and advance areas including entrepreneurship and innovation, talent, business climate and physical infrastructure. Since then, 67,000 jobs have been added to the region, dropping the unemployment rate from 9.4 percent to 6.3 percent.
About JAX Chamber
The JAX Chamber is the business membership organization dedicated to driving quality economic growth in Northeast Florida to make this region the best place to live, work and play. Membership provides the opportunity to connect with and buy from other Chamber members. The connections result in business growth and a more prosperous economy.
Media Contact: Matt Galnor
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