For the second year in a row, Wells Fargo has awarded the Community Entrepreneur Opportunity (CEO) Program with a $5,000 grant to develop businesses in North Sarasota. These funds will help support the CEO Program which offers a multi-week course that introduces entrepreneurs to business basics and helps them determine the viability of their business or business idea. The course is offered twice a year to residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties, with emphasis on the North Sarasota/Newtown area.
Wells Fargo is actively involved in the communities where its team members live and work, and makes contributions in areas it believes are important to the communities’ vitality and success. In 2015, Wells Fargo contributed $2.3 million to organizations in West Florida. Machelle Maner, Vice President of Community Development for Wells Fargo said, “Wells Fargo is very proud to be one of the top SBA lenders in the country. However, we understand that you can’t get an SBA loan without a strong foundation. We commend the CEO program for making a difference in the community by helping businesses start right and grow strong. We are proud to support small businesses in Sarasota and beyond.”
The CEO Program is held in partnership with CareerSource Suncoast, City of Newtown/North Sarasota Redevelopment Office, SCORE, and Sarasota County. The course is provided at no cost to participants on behalf of generous grants from SunTrust Foundation and Wells Fargo. To date, 206 entrepreneurs have graduated from the CEO program.
According to graduate Mary Mack, owner of Max Tax Prep and Consulting, the CEO program opened her eyes to how much she did not know about owning a business, even though she’s been doing it for over 40 years. “It helped me focus on how to properly conduct my business and what fees to charge. There were a lot of things I wasn’t charging for, but these things were taking a lot of time. I lost some customers when I started charging for certain items, but in the end my business is stronger.” Mack continues to be involved with the CEO program and connects with other budding entrepreneurs as well as current small business owners. “This is my community,” Mack says. “There are a couple gaps here in North Sarasota and I want to help, that’s the main thing.”
Anthony Gagliano, Business and Economic Development Director with CareerSource Suncoast, says that in continuing to build the CEO program he sees many opportunities for small business and entrepreneurship in the North Sarasota community. “Thanks to Wells Fargo’s continued generosity, future entrepreneurs will gain the valuable knowledge they need through the CEO course to bring their business dreams to fruition. We are excited on where we are going to go in 2017 and look forward to our continued partnership with Wells Fargo.”
In addition to its support of the CEO program, Wells Fargo partners with local organizations throughout the year to present financial-focused workshops. These events are provided at no charge to community members who are interested in improving their financial positions. Contact Rowena Elliott at (941) 365-2220 ext. 3220 for information on upcoming workshops or to apply to the upcoming CEO Program.
About CareerSource Suncoast
CareerSource Suncoast is a non-profit dedicated to providing education and tools for employers and job-seekers. Our mission is to recruit, train and retain talent for employers on the Suncoast. An equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. All voice telephone numbers on this document may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711.