After working in financial services for 10 years, I decided to leave and start my own business. I built on my strength of providing quality training and focused the business on building learning-management systems. I spent seven years building systems for small and large companies.
An opportunity at the JAX Chamber arose in 2012 and I knew it was time to make the move. I started at the Chamber as the Senior Director of the Entrepreneurial Growth Division (EGD).
Over time we began to notice that there was a gap between the EGD’s general business training and actually preparing our business owners to work with larger companies. That’s where JAX Bridges comes in. Launched in July 2014, it’s a program of the JAX Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division and we designed it to connect small and medium-sized companies with opportunities to do business with larger corporations; as well as to provide targeted entrepreneurial education support.
Most of our small businesses, they’ve been so focused on delivering a product and executing in their business. But in order for them to grow, there are a wide range of activities in which they need to be engaged. Ultimately, we’re creating a culture of commerce.
The program educates entrepreneurs. It creates “many-to-many relationship access” for both vendors and suppliers. We leverage entrepreneurial tools, unique learning strategies, and corporate relationships to deliver on our value proposition.
At the end of the JAX Bridge’s Cohort 8, the group presented me with a wooden tree with many branches. One-by-one the members of the cohort hung a leaf on the tree and shared how they had been impacted by the program. Those firsthand stories showed me how broad the program’s reach is. If I could, I’d tell my younger self to stay focused on being a hero for someone. If you do good work and follow your passion, you’re going to impact people that you don’t even know.
In 2018, I completed a master’s degree at Penn State focused on building entrepreneurial networks. I’m constantly on the move to learn more and be part of the continuous loop of innovation.