CO.STARTERS program celebrates first graduates

Published 3:38 pm Thursday, December 8, 2022

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

MONTEVALLO – The first graduates of a new entrepreneurship program recently celebrated their successful completion of the course.

Five local entrepreneurs served as Montevallo Main Street’s first CO.STARTERS cohort, a small group of Shelby County residents who completed a nine-week course designed to help them fine-tune their ideas for operating a small business.

The CO.STARTERS Fall 2022 graduates were: Brandelyn Nelson – Team Lehman KW Realty, Herman Lehman – Keys to the City Community Coaching; Holly Wadleigh – Simply Johnson and Family, Holly’s Simple Landscape and Design; Pat Johnson – Veterans Farming Initiative – Two Goat Brands Distillery & Meadery; and Sean and Elizabeth Hilty – American Custom Trailer & RV.

A reception for the graduates took place on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Bradford Real Estate Group in Montevallo.

“These entrepreneurs were celebrated by friends and family, sponsor representatives, Montevallo Main Street Board and Committee members, and city officials,” Montevallo Main Street Executive Director Courtney Bennett said. “Thanks again to our sponsors who made this possible.”

Sponsors included the following:
– Innovator Level – Spring Creek Investments
– Promoter Level – Bradford Real Estate Group, Dixie Decorations, Dr. Tom J. Sanders, Keys to the City Community Coaching, Team Lehman, Trustmark Bank
– Community Partners – 58 INC, Calera Main Street, Columbiana Main Street, Montevallo Chamber of Commerce, Michael E. Stephens College of Business – University of Montevallo, REACH Women’s Business Center, Shelby County Reporter

Montevallo Main Street plans to host another cohort of as many as five students in spring 2023 and will announce dates early in the new year.

CO.STARTERS will be offered once or twice per year moving forward, depending on demand and available funding, according to Bennett.

“While we have seen an uptick in small business ownership over the past few years, we want to do what we can to prepare those business owners for success,” Bennett said in a previous interview. “It’s a very sad thing when a business has to close its doors, and we want to do whatever we can to prevent that.”