The Hull College of Business is supporting a community effort to start local businesses in collaboration with the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.
The college’s dean and five faculty members are serving as mentors or judges for J-Tank, a three-month program to assist young entrepreneurs and their families to take their interests and turn them into a viable business.
“It’s an economic empowerment program supported by a number of partners,” explained Gary Dennis, executive director for the school.
On Sat., Sept. 18, running concurrently with the ArtsCity Festival in downtown Augusta, the art school conducted a two-hour livestream, where the entrepreneurs presented their business plans.
“This is a spin-off of the nationally renowned show Shark Tank,” said Jay Jefferies, meteorologist with WFXG-TV Fox 54, who served as event host.
While the participants did not ask for funding, as on the TV show, they did make a pitch for their business ideas. The business proposals ranged from property management to shirt printing to career assistance.
The judge panel included Richard Franza, dean of the Hull College, and faculty members Cathy Slade, Dinesh Hasija, and Mike Dugan.
Judges gave written feedback on the proposals, which will enter those pitching their business ideas into a 13-week phase of the program called the J-Tank Academy that will assist the entrepreneurs in all aspects of developing a business, from planning, design, and branding, to accounting and sales. Franza and professor Simon Medcalfe will serve as coaches.
All participants will receive $500 from First Community Bank, one of the program partners, according to Dennis.
Jessye Norman, who died in 2019, was a world-renowned opera singer born in Augusta.
The Jessye Norman School of the Arts is an after-school program designed to develop and nurture the artistic and creative talents of students. The school was founded in 2003 to provide a free arts education to economically disadvantaged children.