SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Applications are now being accepted for the CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center Business Accelerator Program (CAJC).
CAJC is the region's first low-to-moderate income and diversity-focused business accelerator program.
The first CAJC group of 13 local startups included businesses in retail, technology, food, and health and beauty. The founders come from various ethnic backgrounds, including African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander.
Entrepreneurs receive six months of free workspace, mentorship, and workshops - learning skills like how to access capital.
Kelly Twichel is one of 13 entrepreneurs in CONNECT ALL's first cohort. Her woman-owned company Access Trax was born in a college classroom.
"It's important because you want to level the playing field. Anybody has and can come up with a great idea."
Twichel and the rest of the first CONNECT ALL cohort will finish their program in October.
"Not having to give up equity in my company meant a lot to me because I wanted to grow this as organically as possible and really maintain control. We are a woman-owned small business, and I wanted to do everything I could to continue to foster that."
She's now in the running for the Amber Grant for Women Entrepreneurs contest; if awarded, Twichel's company would receive $25,000. Community members can vote for her company now through December.
The goal of CONNECT ALL is to grow startups into thriving businesses which go on to hire local and strengthen the City of San Diego's economy.
The program is funded through Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego, and private funding from partners, such as MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.