KOSBE Announces Propel Mentor/Protégé Pilot Program Class Members

Photo above: Aundrea Wilcox, KOSBE executive director

The Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE) has announced the inaugural Propel Mentor/Protégé Program class:

  • Angela Braan – Cassia’s Salon & Spa (Kingsport, TN)
  • Anthony Pasquale and Jeremy Lizotte – Insight Polymers & Compounding (Kingsport, TN)
  • Robert Sheffey – Rowan Tree Care (Johnson City, TN)
  • Joyce Brown – Broad Street on State Retro Diner (Bristol, TN)
  • Cristin Yeary – Masters Touch Salon & Spa (Russellville, TN)
  • Jenna Tamayo – Appalachian Maid Services, LLC (Johnson City, TN)
  • Keddrain Bowen – Fanatics 101 (Johnson City, TN)
  • Twana Taylor – Taylor’s Martial Arts Academy (Kingsport, TN)
  • Jessica Goodman – H2O Pruf, LLC (Morristown, TN)

The Propel program is a one-of-its-kind opportunity designed for woman-, veteran-, and minority-owned small businesses and disadvantaged businesses including rural, economic, or social disadvantage.  The Propel program provides business owners with one-on-one assistance to help them grow their business, and teams them up with a mentor (an established community business leader) and exclusive mastermind group. Propel has a track record of success in Tennessee, starting with the Knoxville Chamber in 2008. Since then, the program has graduated 26 total Protégé graduates and has helped start new businesses and drawn an economic impact of over $60 million.

When asked why these particular businesses were selected, KOSBE Advisory Council Chairman Sam Booher said, “This group of business owners is diverse in many ways not limited to geography, type of business, stage of business life cycle, gender, race, age, experiences, skills, perspectives, ethnicity and economics.  The advantages of diversity have far-ranging effects including increased creativity and innovation.  I believe a mastermind full of diverse members will increase ideas, action and engagement; and help the individual companies grow and move forward.  It will be interesting to see how they collaborate on solving problems for their companies.”

A kick-off meeting and boot camp for class members will take place on Friday, July 20th, 2018, from 8am to 2pm ET, at the Kingsport Chamber.  After the boot camp, participants will attend an exclusive Propel Mentor/Protégé mastermind group at least once a month. Occasionally, there will be a guest speaker presenting on the subject matter that is being covered, and simultaneous webcam conferencing with the Propel cohort in Knoxville. Participants will also be part of a private Facebook Group: Propel Protégés with over 100 members who are past and present protégés and mentors.  Participants will also be assigned a mentor, from the KOSBE Advisory Council, and be required to meet with them once a month, at a time and place that is convenient for both.

The KOSBE Advisory Council consists of the following local business leaders:

  • Rob Batot, Owner at Sensational Seasonings
  • Chaiba Bloomer, Owner at CKB Global Business Consulting, Inc.​
  • Sam M. Booher, Associate Counsel at Eastman Credit Union
  • Chris Bowen, Owner & President of Cumberland Marketing
  • Lane Dukart, Global Product & Pricing Manager at Eastman
  • Pam Corrigan, Owner at GAAM Wealth Advisors
  • Keith Cunningham, Owner at The Bagel Exchange
  • John Demuth, Owner at Kingsport Imaging, Inc.
  • Adam Gray, General Manager at Workspace Interiors
  • Michael Holt, Partner at Kaplan CFO Solutions
  • Cassandra Honaker, Owner at Millennium Auto Collision Repairs, LLC
  • Greg Perdue, Vice President of Commercial Lending at First Tennessee Bank
  • Russ Rogers, Chief Operations Officer at Wheels Enterprises, Inc./Honda Kingsport
  • Donald Tatum, Food Service Associate at PepsiCo

The local pilot program is funded through a grant from the State of Tennessee’s “LIFTTN” initiative in partnership with the Knoxville Chamber’s Propel Mentor/Protégé Program.  Doug Minter, Business Development Manager at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, is the driving force behind Propel.  Minter said, “We believe that mentoring is the next ‘Manhattan Project’ for small business growth.  Chambers have one thing that few organizations have—a ready pool of successful large companies primed to mentor emerging smaller businesses.  This is the simple yet powerful philosophy around the Propel Mentor/Protégé program.  I reached out to the Kingsport Chamber, because they have the dedicated staff, infrastructure and regional reach and reputation needed to be successful.”

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