Sunday, May 18, 2008

Graduation day for 26 Georgia small businesses

Governor Sonny Perdue congratulated members of the Governor’s Mentor-Protégé program as it graduated its fourth class Wednesday evening in ceremonies held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

“The relationships between the mentors and protégés energize the kind of learning process we like to model in state government,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “In the same way that state government benefits from its relationships with the private sector, the Mentor- Protégé program facilitates interaction and learning between large and small businesses in Georgia.”

Georgia’s eight-year-old Mentor-Protégé program, the first of its kind in the nation, teams successful companies such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola and United Parcel Service with smaller, growing Georgia-based businesses to increase those businesses’ odds for success. Each class goes through an 18-month cycle that includes one-on-one mentoring sessions, specialized training seminars, networking events and mandatory progress reporting sessions.

Twenty-two mentor companies teamed with protégé businesses to incorporate best practices into areas such as accounting & finance, human resources, strategic planning, marketing, Web site development, operating efficiencies and organizational planning issues.

The Mentor-Protégé program is part of the Governor’s Entrepreneur & Small Business Office, housed in the Global Commerce division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).

“The partnerships formed through the Governor’s Mentor-Protégé program are invaluable to both the mentor companies and the emerging businesses they work with,” said GDEcD Commissioner Ken Stewart. “An estimated 95 percent of all businesses in Georgia are small businesses, and this program helps them make the leap to become the kind of success that makes our state proud.”

During the graduation ceremony, eight teams will be recognized as outstanding members of the program. Members of the program hail from cities around the state, including Vidalia and Washington and many Atlanta metro area locales.

Corporate sponsors of the program are GE Energy, Georgia Power, Hardin Construction, Lockheed Martin, The Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, Turner Broadcasting Systems and UPS.

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