OneSpartanburg launches “PowerUp Spartanburg,” a new small and minority-owned business initiative

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:32 PM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - We told you a few weeks ago that Spartanburg County invested $6.2 million into supporting and creating more small and minority owned businesses. Tuesday night, OneSpartanburg gave a little more insight to how they plan to do that over the next 5 years.

The initiative is called PowerUp Spartanburg. It’s a 9-step plan to break the barriers people may face when trying to start a business. The program will not only help start new businesses, but keep existing business going.

“We want to make sure smaller businesses aren’t left behind,” said councilman Mo Abusaft at the event.

Business owners, business helpers and county leaders all packed into the Inman Roadhouse for the announcement.

“30%-- that’s how far behind the national average spartanburg lags in the number of black owned businesses and that is not good enough,” said Allen Smith, the President and CEO of OneSpartanburg.

That statistic is what started this all. Councilmembers Abustaf and Jessica Coker pushed council to fund the initiative and now OneSpartanburg has the plan.

“I think by building this program, you’re going to see those numbers really start to rise,” said Jay Jenkins, the Director of Small & Minority Business Development, for OneSpartanrbug.

The program has 9 steps. Including $2.5 million for grants which will begin this summer, encouraging developers to create more small storefronts in downtowns, offering free mentorship, an online resource hub and connecting small business to big business.

“I think this is something new, I think it is really great for the county and I’m thinking that this is going to be a model for other communities to follow,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins says this program will work and the proof is the business that held the announcement event. He helped the owner of the Inman Roadhouse get going, and the new restaurant and event space will be opening the doors very soon.

“It’s just like a dream come true, and if it wasn’t for Jay, this dream right now would not be coming true,” said the Inman Roadhouse’s owner during the event.

Current business owners are optimistic too.

“I think we would have been twice as further along if it would have had PowerUp Spartanburg back in 2017,” said Rebecca & Joseph Wallace, who started their credit assistance business, YMA Wealth Management Group, back in 2017.

Many of the initiatives, like the grant application, will begin this summer. It’ll be fully launched by the end of this year. The county’s goal at the end of year 5, is to make Spartanburg the best place to be an entrepreneur.