people at ICCC event

The ICCC program has been called an "MBA on steroids" for small-business owners who take part.

Category: Economic Development

Suncoast Business Owners Offered Cost-Free Training to Help Local Companies Grow

Application process underway for program that blends high-impact education with one-on-one coaching to help small businesses serve more customers and create more jobs.

SARASOTA, Fla. – Regions Bank on Thursday announced Suncoast-area business owners are encouraged to apply for a cost-free education program that seeks to connect local entrepreneurs with resources designed to help grow their companies.

The program is called Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC). ICCC provides business education, marketing assistance and one-on-one coaching for businesses that are growth oriented and have a presence in or near urban or economically underserved areas. ICCC is part of the nonprofit Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, which was founded by Harvard Business School Professor Dr. Michael Porter to strengthen communities through education and private-sector investment.

The program is offered free of charge due to financial support from Regions Bank and community partners. Regions recruited ICCC to Florida for the first time in the program’s history. Community partners joining Regions include Florida Blue, Carlton Fields, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Ernst & Young, United Way Suncoast, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Valpak.

Eligible business owners can come from communities along the Suncoast, as well as from the Tampa Bay area and the Interstate 4 and 75 corridors.

“Florida’s economy is seeing encouraging growth, and we want to make sure nobody is left behind,” said Marty Lanahan, West Florida Area President for Regions Bank. “This program levels the playing field. It gives entrepreneurs access to the types of information, expertise and investments they need to help their businesses thrive. As local businesses grow and succeed, they create more jobs, and our entire region is made stronger.”

Business training from ICCC is delivered by nationally recognized experts from the Harvard Business School, Northwestern, MIT and other leading institutions. ICCC also connects entrepreneurs with local business professionals who provide customized coaching and feedback.

ICCC will culminate in Florida with an all-day business education conference at the University of South Florida’s CAMLS facility in Tampa on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Webinars and follow-up opportunities will also be available to help entrepreneurs continue developing their skills. To participate, business owners must apply through the ICCC website. Applications are due July 14.

Kimberly Hopper, Sarasota-Bradenton President for Regions Bank, said there are many businesses in urban or underserved communities that offer competitive products and services. The key to long-term success, she said, is for business owners to make sure they have the right business plans and strategies in place.

“You want to make sure when your economy is growing that as many people are coming along with that growth as possible, and we see this as an opportunity to bring a unique resource to local entrepreneurs,” Hopper said. “A lot of businesses have good products, or they have good services; they just need support to get to the next level of growth. That’s what ICCC provides.”

ICCC will review applications from business owners based on program criteria and select businesses to take part in the Sept. 13 conference. ICCC also presents a national investors conference in New York, and local businesses that are eligible will be invited to participate.

Business owners can learn more about ICCC and the program’s qualifications at this link. Those who would like to participate can access the online application here.

ICCC Director Hyacinth Vassell said since ICCC started in 2005, representatives of more than 1,100 businesses have participated in ICCC programs in cities across the country. Those businesses have since raised more than $1.4 billion to grow their businesses – while creating approximately 12,000 jobs.

Vassell said Florida business owners would come away from this year’s program with a deeper knowledge of how to achieve long-term success.

“They’ll have a better understanding of how to grow their business more effectively,” Vassell said. “They will understand what it means to be ‘lendable.’ They will be more intentional about their growth. They will be more thoughtful about capital infusion. So we’ll be seeing a lot more businesses that are going to be getting wealth creation and job creation happening.”

Steve Grossman, CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, met with civic and business leaders to share the vision for September’s ICCC event.

“It changes people’s lives – not by throwing a lot of words at them but by offering them a 40-hour mini MBA on steroids,” Grossman said. “It’s going to be intense. It’s going to be rewarding. It’s going to be amazing.”

Lanahan reiterated the program is free. All business owners must do at this point is apply.

“This is a chance to learn directly from some of the brightest business minds in the country. And it’s free. So there’s no reason not to apply,” Lanahan said. “The application deadline of July 14 will be here soon, and we are already seeing strong interest. So we encourage companies to apply early and make sure they have a chance to take part.”

A video further illustrating how ICCC works can be seen here.

About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $125 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage, and insurance products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 1,900 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at