Special to The Mississippi Link,
“Oh, the lending fair was very educational,” expressed Zundria Webb of Cleveland. Webb was among more than 130 registrants for the Community Student Learning Center’s (CSLC) Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program’s (CNPP) Mississippi Delta Lending Fair held Feb. 25.
A collaborative of CNPP, Boss Lady Economic Planning and Development Workforce Transportation, and the Delta State University Women Minority Business Development Center (WMBDC), the free financial and technical assistance (TA) outreach event for underserved businesses was held at the Cleveland, Miss. Lyric Hotel West End.
Dr. Pam Chatman aka “Boss Lady,” founder of Boss Lady Economic Planning and Development Workforce Transportation served as host.
Webb said she gained valuable business information and assistance. She was able to secure her Mississippi Certificate of Formation at the fair. “I’m so excited,” she said. Webb did not know she needed more than the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for her business. Her business is called Shilett Ragalia, LLC. “I sell men and women apparel and also unisex fragrances,” she said.
Regina Bynum of Greenville, Miss., said: “Overall, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge in all areas concerning the business that I am seeking to open: whether it’s from lending, how to incorporate my business, to the difference resources that are available to me in order to get started.”
She is planning to start a consultant business as well as a non-profit. She plans to share what she learned with others. “I will tell them that there are people who are willing to help like Mrs. Greer, Dr. Chatman and Mr. Clark who organized this,” she said.
Although social media and the QR Code registration process helped to attract many to the free lending fair, “in actuality, the need for small business technical assistance and start-up training is so great, especially in underserved areas,” said CNPP Project Director Antwan Clark.
Alonzo Lewis II, owner of Circle (L) Enterprises, LLC, in Coila, Miss. drove more than 80 miles from the Hills of Mississippi to take advantage of the event. “I found the CNPP Lending Fair most helpful for my business,” said Lewis.
“There were lots of helpful information given by banking representatives, and the networking presented an excellent opportunity to meet other business owners and share related experiences. I found it most helpful, very friendly and supportive. I highly recommend that businesses attend future events with the CNPP Lending Fair. It was a great opportunity for current and future business owners. The take-aways were great.”
According to its brochure, CNPP “is an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face in accessing the programs they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses.”
CSLC, based in Lexington, Miss., is one of 51 grantees awarded a CNPP by the U.S. SBA.
CSLC, the CNPP hub, was grateful to partner with Chatman’s organization and the WMBDC to coordinate the event. CSLC Executive Director Beulah Greer said, “Host, Dr. Pam Chatman, was an inspirational to everyone.”
Chatman told the audience: “There is nothing you cannot achieve if you believe in yourself and have a plan. You can’t just jump out there and say you have a business because you have a name…It will take all of us working together hand and hand in our own communities, helping each other. Then we can branch across the state.”
CSLC and its board are most appreciative to everyone who helped make the event a success. “We also would like to thank Ms. Veronique E. Thomas, Ms. Rhonda Fisher and Ms. Rosetta Harris of the SBA Mississippi District Office under the leadership of District Director Janita R. Stewart for taking time out of their Saturday to come and support us,” said Greer. “We are so grateful for all they do to assist us as we implement CNPP. And, of course, we can never thank our dedicated CSLC staff enough for all they do. Their devotion is remarkable.”
Participating banks were BankPlus of Mississippi, Trustmark Bank, GuarantyBank, and Cadence Bank. Participating CNPP spokes/partners were North Central and Development District (NCPDD), Knowledge Info, LLC, Fresh Start Enterprises, LLC, The Institute for Evaluation and Research (TIER), BOLO Works, LLC and Sydney Brown Consulting.
SBA Mississippi District Office announced an upcoming “Meet the Lenders” event in Greenville, Miss. on June 8. All businesses are asked to bring their business plans. If you need assistance with your business plan, feel free to call CNPP at (662) 834-0905.
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