The city of Houston is seeking applicants for its seventh cohort of Build Up Houston, a no-cost executive education program that provides small business owners with practical business education, a supportive business network, and access to contracting opportunities. The program is offered by the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) in partnership with Interise.
“Build Up Houston is one of our capacity-building programs that is designed to take our small, marginalized businesses to the next level,” said Dr. Porscha Jackson, business development manager of the COH’s Office of Business Opportunity. “So, if you’re thinking in terms of folks who have had general success, but just can’t get over the hump, this program is designed to get them there. Moving from maybe subcontracting roles to prime contracting roles.”
Jackson said participants meet every other week during this seven-month program where they are exposed to guest business experts from different industries who come in to help them for each particular program module.
“We really tackle those issues that are stagnating businesses, and it’s typically their finances and their marketing. They’ve got to change those up to get to the next level.”
Part of that transformation work involves another program perk.
“We also pair them with the mentor. So, it’s not that they’re going through this alone. They have a whole business network. They come into the program sometimes timid. And then to see them at the end when they’re graduating, and they’re like, ‘Oh yes, this particular spot or particular module really helped me,’ that’s what’s most exciting to me. Because at the end of the program, they develop a three-year growth plan and we hold them to that growth plan.”
What Jackson said is equally exciting for her is the conversations she has with program graduates.
“What I always love is that maybe a couple months later, even a year later, when they tell me that their business has been soaring and taking off since being in that program, that’s what excites me, just to know that I had a hand in helping them to build and grow their business, which we know helps to build our communities.”
Businesses in construction, technology, and in the services, restaurant and hospitality industries are invited to apply before March 31 at programs.interise.org/houston. The 7-month program, held in person on Tuesdays from 5-8 p.m., is set to begin in May 2022.
To qualify for Build Up Houston, a business must be:
- Certified as a small business with the City of Houston
- Operating for a minimum of two years
- Have a minimum of two employees
- Have minimum annual revenue of $150,000