Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced the Chickasaw Business Network is creating a small business incubator program, Apelachi (Support) Business Center, during his annual State of the Nation address, Oct. 1. The Apelachi Business Center will assist First Americans with their entrepreneurial endeavors. Program participants will begin being accepted fall of 2022.
The incubator will be housed in Ada, Oklahoma. The Apelachi Business Center will assist First American startups and existing businesses by providing culturally tailored incubation services, workspace, mentoring and training. These businesses canreceive one-on-one business counseling, economic development assistance and preparation for future and existing business owners. Counseling assistance to preparing for business loans will also be available.
“We will begin with eight to 10 participants the first year,” said Sandra Wesson, Chickasaw Business Network manager. “Participants will have to go through a pitch process to be selected. These companies will be just starting out, or early in their business cycle. We will help them learn how to manage their business by introducing them to the steps they need to take to be successful.”
Businesses will be furnished with an area for their startup, which includes technology stations with computers, relevant business software, printers and supplies necessary for a workplace that provides an overall productive experience.
According to Wesson, the mission of the Apelachi Business Center is “to ignite the warrior spirit that encourages all First American entrepreneurs the drive to achieve success in their business endeavors.”
Apelachi Business Center participants will receive support and encouragement through the exchanging of ideas and knowledge from Apelachi Business Center employees. The Apelachi Business Center shares many of the same services as the Chickasaw Small Business Development Center, but with dedicated advisers exclusively focused on training businesses within the incubator.
“The purpose of the incubator is to develop a well-rounded entrepreneur,” Wesson said. “We want our businesses to have the knowledge to handle all aspects of their industry. From selling their product and services to handling booking and scheduling, we want to make sure they know how to manage their business.”
One of the first steps for any successful entrepreneur is learning where and how to find financing. The Apelachi Business Center will educate businessowners on how to secure business credit and capital, prepare and present financial statements, manage cash flow, and other financial operations, including negotiating and locating contract opportunities.
Marketing is another discipline businesses must master. The Apelachi Business Center will teach basic marketing concepts, such as identifying target markets and market opportunities, preparing and executing market plans, as well as using public relations and advertising techniques.
The Apelachi Business Center has built working relationships with other groups dedicated to small business development at the state and national levels. These include REI Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center, among others.
“We will be working with these groups to help develop small businesses throughout the state,” Wesson said. “We will be using some of their training, along with training modules that is culturally tailored for First Americans.”
For more information, visit ChickasawBusinessNetwork.com or call (580) 559-0728.
About the Chickasaw Business Network
The Chickasaw Business Network works to provide links to valuable business resources to Chickasaw entrepreneurs, other First American-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses.
“We provide counseling, training, development, networking and resources to assist our citizens in achieving their entrepreneurial dreams,” Wesson said. “From startup to expansion, financial or operational, we support our Chickasaw citizen-owned small businesses throughout the business life cycle.”
The Chickasaw Business Network offers four venues for small businesses’ participation. These include the Chickasaw Nation Small Business Development Center, Chickasaw Business Directory, Preferred Vendor Program and the Chickasaw Nation bid board.