Chase continues its ongoing commitment to to provide $3 million to local small businesses through its Mission Main Street Grants, a program that will award 20 grants of $150,000 to small businesses nationwide this year. Qualifying businesses will gain access to a marketing Toolkit from Google, a program sponsor.
The chosen 20 grant winners will receive a trip to Google for an exclusive small business marketing workshop, a Google Chromebook Laptop computer and a $2,000 coupon toward one market research study with Google Consumer Surveys (Opens Overlay).
Last year Samuel Gilmore was the recipient of a $200,000 Mission Main Street grant. It was 25 years ago that the former Air Force pilot founded Overnight Success Inc., a construction and supply company, in response to the high unemployment rate among African Americans in his hometown of Miami..Launched in 2012, the program has received $3 million from Chase and Google to help 20 small businesses in 2015.
The former flier of B-52 bombers took $17,000 from his savings to jump-start the business. His first projects consisted of simple jobs such as drywall painting and putting up concrete blocks. But his company went on to win contract bids on major construction projects such as the Miami International Airport, American Airlines Arena, and other commercial developments in the Miami area, and in 2013 Overnight Success grossed $1.4 million in revenues last year. “My contracting firm has hired more than 500 people, paying these workers $15 million in payroll,” says Gilmore, the company’s president and CE
Entrepreneurs from across the country applied in 2014 for the chance to win a Mission Main Street grant and a trip to Google headquarters. After completing the five-question application, entrants had to use social media to get at least 250 votes for their business in order to move up to the next round—in which they could be selected as a grant recipient by a panel of judges.
“The Internet has proven to be a vital pipeline for small businesses, and it continues to connect more businesses to their customers every day,” Jon Kaplan, Google’s vice president of U.S. sales and operations, said in a statement
Out of nearly 35,000 applicants, Overnight Success made the cut and was selected as one of 12 small businesses to receive a $250,000 grant. Gilmore used the grant money to buy equipment to compete for contracts such as the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department’s $4.5 billion expansion project. With additional funds to help provide more employment opportunities in his community, Gilmore says winning the grant has allowed him to reassess the direction of his company and to evaluate the jobs that have benefited it the most.
In the beginning stages of a small business, Gilmore says, it’s easy for companies to get stuck on a treadmill, taking on jobs that may not always be the most beneficial, because of the need for steady cash flow. But with the help of the Mission Main Street Grants program, Overnight Success can now be more selective about the jobs it takes on.
In this year’s contest, the grants are smaller but going to more businesses, 20 versus 12. The winners will be announced early in the year.
The Mission Main Street Grant is among the various corporate-sponsored entrepreneurship programs and non-traditional sources of capital that will be discussed at the 2015 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit (May 13–16 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta), which marks its 20th year assisting startup and established entrepreneurs. The summit is a pivotal venue for small business owners to broker deals with key stakeholders, and to participate in sessions that cover topics such as accessing capital, accelerating tech startups, winning corporate and government contracts, and making value-added industry peer connections.