The Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC) will begin its 10th year October 1. As evidenced in our most recent Report to the Community, the JWBC story reveals more than statistics. The Report illustrates how our community-based organization remains laser-focused on our mission to meet the unique needs of women entrepreneurs who continue to significantly impact the Northeast Florida region.
This year’s Report to the Community demonstrates how the JWBC stands behind its mission to “advance the success of women entrepreneurs at every stage of business development.”
“We never stop talking about the ‘why’ behind our mission,” said Sandy Bartow, founding JWBC executive director and now vice president of Entrepreneurial Growth for the JAX Chamber and president of the Chamber Foundation. “We serve women entrepreneurs and business owners because of their potential,” citing national business-start and growth statistics. “It’s also about how women conduct business, how they learn and how they develop business relationships. We help them advance their success, regardless of where they start.”
Funded in part by a grant from the Small Business Administration, the JWBC is one of 106 Centers across the country. Locally, the JWBC is hosted by the JAX Chamber and funded by the JAX Chamber Foundation through corporate and individual donations.
Volunteers fill a critical resource gap
While the JWBC is not the only business development resource serving Northeast Florida, it is the only regional organization to offer structured business mentoring programs designed specifically for women. These programs take on several forms, including facilitated peer-to-peer groups; topical programs guided by subject matter experts; and advisory panels who commit to the woman business owner for a full year.
To deliver these “signature” programs, the JWBC relies on the involvement of volunteers who have contributed nearly 12,000 hours of coaching, leadership and expertise as business mentors. “Their commitment is what makes our programming possible,” said Pat Blanchard, JWBC director. “Even this year’s Report to the Community was made possible by the collective efforts of volunteer contributors.”
The Big Picture
Long-time volunteer and current chair of the JWBC Advisory Board, Candace Moody, vice president of communications for WorkSource, wants readers of this year’s report to see the big picture within its pages. “We serve hundreds of women each year, but our role is bigger than simply assisting the women who come to us as clients. We also champion women business owners throughout the region, businesses big and small, that represent every industry sector in the region. Women-owned businesses in Northeast Florida employ over 200,000 people and generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. I am honored to be a part of an organization that helps them achieve success.”
Success builds on success
Women business owners and entrepreneurs seek out the JWBC to explore the possibilities of starting a business, find answers to operational and management issues and to connect with a knowledge bank of business experts. While they don’t necessarily see themselves as part of the big picture Candace talks about, we help each client understand how to build on each success to reach both personal and business goals. Her business produces outcomes that touch our entire community.
By definition, entrepreneurs fearlessly pursue independence – they start or own a business to launch a big idea, do it better than their former employer or simply carve out a space to live their passion. Through our programs, JWBC clients gain knowledge and understanding that builds confidence on their way to self-sufficiency.
After start-up, one of the benchmarks of business growth is first, writing that first paycheck to herself, then managing growth to hire the first employee, then the next… Job creation generates far-reaching economic impact throughout the region.
For many women, their dream of business glory is more than making money. It’s about “working to live” as opposed to “living to work,” where flexibility and revenue generation become equal priorities. Owning and operating a business is her way to create financial stability and strengthen her family.
Each business fortifies the market it serves, and not just with the profitable delivery of products and services. Business success creates more choices for owners and employees to give back. They contribute time, talent and treasure to countless community initiatives, including us. When they’re ready, many JWBC clients return to “pay it forward” and help other woman business owners like themselves.
Our clients are reaching national audiences, winning awards and gaining industry recognition. They represent a broad spectrum of industries, company size, business and life experiences, and cultural backgrounds, bringing more voices and new kinds of influential leadership to the business world and beyond.
What the future holds
Chantelle Quick, another long-time volunteer, is Vice President, Audit Services Group for Stein Mart, Inc. She will lead the JWBC as Advisory Board Chair for the next two years. Her vision of JWBC’s future is centered on leadership. “What you’ll see in the pages of this year’s Report to the Community are examples of women taking on bigger and bigger leadership roles. They’re breaking through belief barriers to broaden their personal and professional sphere of influence. We want to be the organization to help them develop and sustain the skills essential to leadership and growth.”
What this means to you
We hope what you discover in this year’s Report to the Community is a place where you can make a difference through your involvement. There’s a place for you at the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center.
If you are a woman business owner, we’re the place to find out if you’re ready to start a business, a place to learn how to manage your business better or a place to collaborate with colleagues to spark innovation and company growth.
Click here for program information.
If you are a business professional, we are a place where you can sharpen your skills and gain critical insights (about yourself and your customers) as a volunteer business mentor.
Click here for volunteer opportunities.
If you are leader of your corporation, we are a place where you can reinforce your company’s brand and invest your community development or marketing dollars.
Click here to make a charitable donation.