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A Streetwise 'MBA'

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Twelve years ago David Warner saw a need in his Jamaica Plain neighborhood. There was no place to get coffee, buy fresh, healthy food, and chat with neighbors. He opened City Feed and Supply, which provides the community with local produce, fresh coffee, homemade baked goods, and a gathering place.

Warner is a community leader. Warner contributes significantly to organizations in Greater Boston -- little league teams, Main Streets programs, and the Boston Local Food Festival, to name a few. He said that community involvement was the inspiration for the store because food brings people together.

"The more we put into it, the business gives a pathway to do more things, make a difference, and contribute to the community and local economy," Warner said.

Warner is a job creator. Small businesses are pillars of the local economy. Warner took Interise's inaugural StreetWise 'MBA' (SWMBA) in 2004. Since then, he's grown from 15 employees to 45 full time equivalents (FTEs). He is committed to hiring locally -- 94 percent of his staff lives in Jamaica Plain. Since completing the SWMBA, Warner has increased revenue by 366 percent and opened a second location in 2008.

Warner is filling a gap. There is only one major supermarket in this low-to-moderate income community, making it difficult for residents to access fresh produce. City Feed's two locations help address this need.

City Feed and Supply is a pillar in Jamaica Plain. If Warner wasn't there, who would fill these community needs?

Interise is an innovative nonprofit that contributes to community and economic development by growing the employer base of lower-income communities. We provide a diverse group of existing small business owners with entrepreneurial education, new networks, and access to markets. Our community creates jobs, grows businesses, and develops community leaders. Our mission is to stimulate economic revitalization in lower-income communities.

In 2003, Citizens Bank provided our initial funding, leading to the creation of the StreetWise 'MBA' (SWMBA) curriculum in Boston in 2004. Our first business plan outlined expansion to two Massachusetts Gateway Cities, Worcester in 2007 and Lowell in 2009. In October 2011 we expanded to Lawrence and in January 2013 we will launch in New Bedford/Fall River.

Interise's successful model has been recognized for its significant impact in growing small businesses and creating jobs. In 2008, we won a bidding process to become the instructional provider for the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Emerging Leaders 200 Initiative (e200), bringing the SWMBA to 200 entrepreneurs in 10 cities nationwide. Due to its success, it has been renewed and expanded every year since, reaching over 900 entrepreneurs in 27 cities, including 12 Native American communities.

Since 2004, nearly 1,800 small employers have partnered with us to grow their businesses. We've grown from supporting 14 owners with a total of 135 employees in 2004 to 785 owners with 10,795 employees in 2010. In 2011, our entrepreneurs created 1,015 net new jobs with an average starting salary of $41,865.

Please join us in supporting small business owners, like David, in creating jobs in lower-income communities!