ADA, OK – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced that the Chickasaw Business Network is creating a small business incubator program, the Apelachi (support) Business Center. The Apelachi Business Center will assist First Americans with entrepreneurial endeavors, and program participants will begin being accepted fall of 2022.
The incubator will be housed in Ada, OK, and will assist First American startups and existing businesses by providing culturally tailored incubation services, workspace, mentoring and training. Businesses can receive one-on-one counseling, economic development assistance and business loan preparation.
“We will begin with eight to ten 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, including technology stations with computers, relevant business software, printers and supplies necessary for a workplace that provides an overall productive experience. 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,” said Wesson. “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.”
The Apelachi Business Center will educate business owners 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. The Apelachi Business Center will also 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.
“We will be working with these groups to help develop small businesses throughout the state,” said Wesson. “We will be using some of their training, along with training modules that is culturally tailored for First Americans.”