Small businesses given coaching, network help


SALEM — Access to cash is one of the biggest obstacles for small businesses, especially in the nation’s older cities where more than two-thirds of businesses are undercapitalized.

That’s one of the reasons Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, launched the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). The nonprofit teaches small businesses how to grow with personalized business coaching, networking and access to investors.

North Shore business owners are encouraged to attend “Inner City Capital Connections” (ICCC), an informational meeting Monday in the Enterprise Center at Salem State University. The session will detail the program’s successes, benefits, qualifications and application process.

Small business owners who make the two-hour meeting may be invited to the 40-hour session scheduled to start at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in June. Its multidimensional approach includes executive education, webinars, coaching and access to capital sources.

“It’s a mini MBA program on steroids,” said Steven Grossman, ICIC CEO and former state treasurer. “It’s a proven winner.”

Since its inception in 2005 and with the generosity of Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts, Boston Foundation, National Grid and other large firms, ICCC has worked with 1,122 companies nationwide. These alumni, including 200 Massachusetts firms, have raised $1.4 billion in debt and equity capital and created more than 12,000 jobs. Through the work of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Salem State University, ICCC has added a North Shore recruitment focus.

This national program is designed to help small businesses build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability and employment. To be eligible, a business must have revenues of  $1 million or more and be headquartered in or have at least 40 percent of its employees reside within an economically-distressed urban area.

Training takes place over many months, knowing that small business owners cannot take a week off for study, Grossman said. The program promises to serve as a way for the region’s small businesses, including those that are minority-, women- and immigrant-owned, to learn how to create good-paying jobs.

About 100 inner-city entrepreneurs from Massachusetts will be selected to attend the session in June. Tuition is waived for all accepted participants.

“The Monday event is a recruitment kick-off and everyone is invited,” Grossman said. “If we are successful and we get two dozen companies from the North Shore, I’d be thrilled.”

Inner City Capital Connections will be held in the Enterprise Center at Salem State University at 121 Loring Ave. in Salem on Monday, Feb. 6 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]

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