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USC Upstate: $15K in Loan Funds to be announced at Start:ME Micro-Business Showcase Event

The George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate has teamed with the Northside Development Group and CommunityWorks to support 11 promising micro-entrepreneurs in the Northside community through the Start:Micro-Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (Start:ME).

The 14-week program offered business training, mentorship support, and early-stage financing to promising micro-entrepreneurs (early stage businesses employing 1-4 employees) to develop viable and sustainable businesses. Entrepreneurs have competed with one another for an opportunity to receive a loan investment from a loan pool of $15,000.  The loans are peer-selected by the entrepreneurs in each cohort based on a series of ratings over the course of the program.

As part of National Small Business Week, Start:ME will celebrate the 11 micro-businesses that completed this year’s program with our Inaugural Entrepreneur Showcase from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Hub City Farmers Market located at Harvest Park, 498 Howard Street.  The event will feature a marketplace for entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services, keynote address from a local entrepreneur, and loan investment announcements.

Micro-businesses represented in the 2017 Northside Cohort include companies providing goods and services related to music education, catering, professional cleaning and organization, jewelry design, beauty products, photography, fashion design, natural hair care, lawncare, non-profit mentoring, and more.

Other local partners, including the Northside Voyagers and Cleveland Academy of Leadership, played a critical role in supporting Start:ME entrepreneurs. 

For more information on Start:ME Northside, please visit

2017 Cohort Stats & Facts

  • 14 micro-entrepreneurs representing 11 different micro-business ventures
  • 50% women
  • 100% minority-owned
  • $15,000 loan investment pool to be allocated based on peer-selection
  • Over 25 Spartanburg business leaders serving as mentors / coaches
  • 14 weeks of programming (meets once per week) from January through April

About the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics

The mission of the Johnson College of Business and Economics is to educate students and engage in strategic partnerships to enhance the economic development of the Upstate. In support of this mission, our strategy is to deliver an excellent business education, graduate students prepared to lead successful organizations, promote impactful teaching and research in business, and engage in strategic partnerships with the Upstate business community.

About Northside Development Group

The Northside Development Group (NDG) is 501 c 3 non-profit organization made up of a diverse group of people investing time, talent, and dollars for a safe and strong Northside Community. NDG serves to encourage and manage the redevelopment of the City of Spartanburg’s Northside community, honoring its past and expanding the economic, educational, recreational, health, and social opportunities for its residents.

About Start:ME Northside

The George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics has worked with the Northside Development Group and CommunityWorks to support micro-entrepreneurs in the Northside community of Spartanburg, South Carolina, since 2017. The Northside program has graduated 11 ventures and runs annually from January through April.

Written by Carolyn Farr Shanesy, this article was originally published by USC Upstate on April 25, 2017.


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