Saturday, March 28, 2009

Urban League's nextOne program developing minority business dreams

Former Chatham Food owners Leonard & Donna Harris went through this program, as described in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Ti Ron Gibbs has watched his company's profits and revenues more than triple in the last year. Lee Reid has been able to keep his real estate business on track in the midst of recession, and a trio of entrepreneurs, whose businesses had been on different paths a year ago, are teaming up on a new green technology business venture.

They credit a Chicago Urban League program, designed to help accelerate black business growth and economic development in African-American communities, with helping them find new market opportunities and expand.
Eighteen months ago, the League launched its nextOne program to assist a select group of established Chicago companies in partnership with Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. The intensive six-month program provided industry specific one-on-one business coaching to entrepreneurs.

It targeted businesses with sales from $100,000 to $5 million. Among them was Gibbs' TEFL Institute, which trains college students and others to teach English as a foreign language around the world.

"Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high," said Gibbs. "We're able to measure it. We evaluate the course, the instructors. We get feedback from all our students now. Before we didn't do that."

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