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The Cincinnati Herald
By SCORE volunteer Kay Smith-Yount

You probably think you know all about SCORE – after all, it’s been around for a long time. But it has taking some exciting new strides recently.

SCORE, as you may know, is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration. They provide no-cost mentoring and low-cost business workshops to entrepreneurs who are high on passion but need practical business advice and the kind of support that only experienced executives can provide.

As such, Greater Cincinnati SCORE has become an important part of the region’s entrepreneurial landscape over the last 50 years. With over 90 current mentors within Greater Cincinnati, SCORE can offer enormous bandwidth and capacity to small business start-ups, and those already in business, who want to increase their chances of success. Due to their sheer numbers and expertise, they can provide guidance in a wide variety of businesses and professions.

Recently, SCORE has significantly increased their emphasis on community partnerships. According to Jim Stahly, Greater Cincinnati’s Chapter Chair, “Partnering with organizations that develop new local entrepreneurs directly supports SCORE’s mission of fostering vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. We believe that the pathway to a healthy and vibrant local economy lies in developing healthy and vibrant neighborhood businesses, owned by informed entrepreneurs who know that SCORE support and expertise is always available to them.”

One of the newer and most exciting of these partnerships has been with the new Over the Rhine accelerator, MORTAR. SCORE has worked with MORTAR since its first class of potential business owners from OTR began in January of 2015. Through five (and soon to be six) classes, all 71 MORTAR students, 85 percent of them are African American, have been paired one-to-one with a SCORE business mentor. The SCORE mentoring relationship has resulted in education and development of the clients, who, in many cases, had previously been discouraged from starting or growing a business.

Derrick Braziel, the managing director of MORTAR and a founding partner, says that “Without question, the impact of MORTAR has been inextricably tied to our relationship with SCORE. One-hundred percent of our students have had access to a mentor, an esteemed professional, who provides encouragement and support”.

Braziel maintains, “If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly requires a village to build a successful entrepreneur. In the case of MORTAR, SCORE has provided many of the characteristics of a “village” and we are incredibly grateful for their continued support.”

SCORE also partners with Bad Girl Ventures (BGV), an educational and microfinance nonprofit organization, which helps educate women entrepreneurs so that they can compete successfully for loans. For the past seven years, SCORE has proved mentors who accompany the women through the rigorous course and beyond into the marketplace.

In addition to BGV, SCORE is proud to work with such urban and suburban organizations as The Hamilton Mill, Hamilton County Business Development Corporation, the Minority Business Accelerator, Unpolished, Queen City Angels and the UC Entrepreneurial and Commercialization Center. SCORE mentors provide the experience and expertise that the members and clients of these organizations need to build sustainable businesses.

SCORE has much to offer entrepreneurs. In addition to their mentoring services (including team mentoring as well as one-to-one and email mentoring), their seminars are low cost and range in scope from How to Start a Business, Accounting in Your Small Business, Using Social Media for Business Growth, Web Site Development for Small Business and How to Start a Non-profit.

What better way to increase your likelihood of success than to connect with experienced professionals who are eager to share their expertise and creativity with you? What better way to “give back” if you possess the background and expertise to become a SCORE mentor?

 

For information about SCORE workshops, mentoring or volunteer opportunities call (513) 684-2812 or register at www.scoreworks.org. SCORE offices are located at 525 Vine Street, Suite 1030 in downtown Cincinnati. SCORE volunteer Katherine “Kay’’ Smith-Yount is the retired director of Cincinnati Community Land Cooperative and the former owner of JKS Realty Company. SCORE is a national group of volunteer business counselors who are dedicated to the entrepreneurial education and formation, growth. and success of small businesses nationwide.

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