| The Gainesville Sun
If you are an emerging business looking to learn from an experienced business owner, the city of Gainesville has launched a program for you.
The Mentor Protege Program pairs business owners with emerging businesses to learn from each other.
The program’s goal is to educate businesses on how to become more successful doing business with city government, and Nov. 30 is the deadline to apply.
“We believe that through this program, emerging businesses in partnership with established businesses can continue to grow to become qualified to do business with the city of Gainesville,” said Dwan Courtney, Small, Minority and Veteran Business Procurement Program coordinator for the city.
By the way: Report recommends firing Gainesville city manager over retaliation against worker
Courtney encourages anyone willing to mentor a business or anyone who’d like a mentor to apply at https://bit.ly/38QvgMVo, and click on “Mentor Protege” application. For information, call 334-5051 or email [email protected]
The yearlong program kicks off in January. Successful applicants will be paired in December, and when possible, mentors and proteges will be paired according to similar industries and areas of interest. During the year, they will participate in enrichment sessions where business leaders and industry professionals will facilitate discussions on diverse topics about business growth and development.
Courtney said the program was established in 2019 and set to launch in January 2020, but COVID-19 derailed plans. Courtney, who came on board with the city in May, said her goal was to relaunch and revitalize the program. She said the focus is to give proteges access to quality mentors who will help them grow their businesses.
Latest COVID-19 news: 67 more cases, 4 new Alachua County deaths Sunday
Mentors are expected to meet with their proteges at least once a month — online, by phone or in person; Mentors are expected to engage with proteges by offering tips and strategies to assist in business growth. Proteges are expected to seek the mentor’s guidance and both must must participate in enrichment sessions.
Courtney said the program is customized to be inclusive and diverse.
“The goal is to pair mentors and proteges to make sure they are compatible,” Courtney said, adding that city officials hope all types of industries and businesses apply for the program that is available in Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Union and Putnam counties.