What Is the Center?
The BrightBridge Womens Business Center is designed to be a resource for women entrepreneurs to assist with the unique issues they face in starting and growing a business. We are here to assist with all aspects of starting and growing a successful business.
When Was It Established?
Limited services were offered in July 2001 under the name Southeast Womens Business Center, with its grand opening on September 17, 2001. The Center changed names to BrightBridge Womens Business Center (BBIWBC) in the fiscal year of 2010.
How Is the Center Important to the Community?
Our primary focus is to provide services to rural areas located throughout the Tennessee River Valley region, including northern Georgia and southwest North Carolina. There are many women in these rural areas who have various talents and skills that are marketable, but they may not know how to go about starting a business or marketing their products and services.
What Services Are Provided?
The BrightBridge Womens Business Center provides a large range of services. We provide both individual counseling and group training, as well as access to U.S. Small Business Administration programs such as lending. There is a computer with internet access that is available to clients of our center.
Where Is the Office?
We are located in downtown Chattanooga on the corner of 6th and Chestnut Street. The Center office is located on the 1st floor in the BrightBridge Inc. wing.
Who Provides the Funding?
The U.S. Small Business Administration (or the SBA) awards WBC Initial Grants of 5-years to start a Womens Business Center. Grants have been awarded to the BrightBridge Womens Business Center for the duration of its operation. One of the requirements of the grant is a matching contribution. BrightBridge Inc. provides the matching funds for our center.
What Is the Cost to Your Clients?
Because we are awarded a grant from the SBA and receive additional funding from BrightBridge Inc., the majority of our services are free. There will be no charge for individual counseling or regularly scheduled group training sessions. Special sessions may have a nominal fee associated with them, depending on our costs. For example, if we hold a session during lunch hours and provide the meal, there would be a small fee.
What Is Your Service Area?
Our coverage area consists of 13 counties in southeast Tennessee, 10 counties in northern Georgia and 2 counties in southwest North Carolina.
Counties in Tennessee include Pickett, Fentress, Cumberland, Bledsoe, McMinn, Meigs, Bradley, Hamilton, Polk, Sequatchie, Grundy, Marion, and Rhea.
Counties in Georgia are Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Walker, Whitfield, Gordon, Murray, Fannin, Union, and Towns.
Clay and Cherokee counties in North Carolina are also part of our service area.
Depending on the size of a state, the SBA normally opens one center per state. There are centers currently in operation in Atlanta, GA, Fayetteville, NC, and Durham, NC. However, because the majority of the counties we cover are predominantly rural, and most are 100 miles or more from an existing center, the SBA awarded our center with the understanding that it is a rural outreach program.
We do not expect our clients to travel to Chattanooga to benefit from our services! We will be teaching our sessions in each region of our coverage area. We will also utilize teleconferencing under the umbrella of BrightBridge Womens Business Center and schedule individual counseling days at various locations to meet demand.