Small-Biz Owners Sought For Leadership Training Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering local small business owners and CEOs an MBA-like curriculum meant to help them grow.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Wednesday announced the launch of an “intensive executive-level entrepreneurship training program” for small business owners in 27 markets, including the Twin Cities.

The SBA characterizes its 2014 Emerging Leaders program, formerly called e200, as a sort of mini-MBA program, through which business owners and executives use their own companies as case studies and receive a certification for successful completion.

Now in its fourth year, the Minneapolis program will be capped at 15 participants this year, Sherree Sratton of Minnesota’s SBA office told Twin Cities Business. Previous Twin Cities graduates demonstrating a wide range of industries include Minneapolis-based IT consulting firm On-Demand Group, Minneapolis restaurant Saffron, and Eden Prairie-based electrical contractor Gunnar Electric.

The Emerging Leaders program specifically targets businesses that are established and looking to expand, offering their leaders a chance to network and further develop their growth strategies. Businesses must meet the following four criteria to be eligible:

• Are located in the Twin Cities metro area
• Have annual revenue of at least $400,000 but less than $10 million
• Have been in business for at least three years
• Have at least one employee in addition to their owner

Applications are due to the SBA by March 11. After the SBA screens and interviews applicants, the 15 chosen participants will begin the seven-month program in mid-April.

Participants spend about 100 hours of classroom time focusing on subjects such as growth strategy planning, obtaining financing, and applying for government grants and contracts. Peer-to-peer counseling, workshops, and networking opportunities help business owners gain confidence and acumen to actively pursue new avenues of development. The program is free of charge to accepted applicants, as the SBA and local partners cover the cost.

Nationwide, Emerging Leaders had 400 successful graduates last year. Participating companies reported creating nearly 2,000 full time jobs and securing more than $73 million in new financing, as well as more than $1 billion in federal, state, local, and tribal contracts since the program’s 2007 inception.

“Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs, and helped drive local economic growth in their communities,” Jeanne Hulit, the SBA’s acting administrator, said in a statement.