New group to help small businesses in western Jefferson County and Alabama

Helping small businesses in Birmingham

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - If you own a small business, you know it has been a tough road to travel with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was already a struggle for some small businesses even before the pandemic, but a new group has come together to provide assistance to help those businesses survive and even grow.

Various groups are coming together. They represent the business interests of western Jefferson County. They are teaming with the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accountancy. Their goal is to help these small businesses survive tough times.

In downtown Fairfield, some businesses are surviving. It hasn’t been easy. Others have boarded up their shops. A non-profit group - the Western Communities Redevelopment Alliance - believes creating what is called the Western Small Business Accelerator will help businesses to develop access to new resources.

“A lot of times they have no idea of accounting practices or even the theory of accounting. The biggest thing to get a loan or an investor is you have to show your books,” said Jeremy Duckworth, Executive Director of the WCRA.

Duckworth is teaming up with various business groups to get small businesses access to Zoom meetings at the University of Alabama to teach them how to put their books in order. One business was able to get a federal loan to keep his employees and stay in business.

“We are looking for existing business owners who have been in business for longer than three years, at least a year, have made some revenue, have made some money, but now they are looking to grow their business,” Duckworth said.

The Western Small Business Accelerator is not limited to just Jefferson County, but any business in the Black Belt of Alabama. Duckworth has a big concern some businesses may not make it.

“I know for fact our small businesses in our community underwrite our baseball program. Underwrite our football program. They underwrite a lot of different community services programs. If they fall, the community will fall even more,” Duckworth said.

All you have to do is contact the Western Communities Redevelopment Alliance at info@jeffcowcra.org. You will take part in Zoom meetings at the University of Alabama Culverhouse School of Accountancy. Those meeting have already started.

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