Albany's first FasTrac class graduates

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Representatives of 20 small Southwest Georgia businesses graduated Thursday from The University of Georgia's Small Business Development Center's FasTrac Growth Venture program.

Targeted specifically to entrepreneurs who have experience running their businesses, FastTrac Growth Venture focuses on small business needs such as:

- Make critical decisions about business vision and strategy

- Investigate next-stage growth and opportunity

- Plan for strategic growth

- Build and maintain a competitive advantage

- Lead with clarity

- Maximize cash flow for future profitability.

"This was the inaugural course for Albany, and we've been pleased with the caliber of businesses here," program facilitator Mark Lupo said. "They have set the bar high for the next group. We've seen strong, growing businesses here."

SBDC Area Director Debbie Finney said she was pleased that so many area businesses invested their time and money in the seven-week, 40-hour-plus course.

"We are very pleased with the turnout," Finney said. "The success of this local program is due to its diversity. We have men and women, a variety of ages; we have fairly new to established businesses, but all with the common interest of working to make their business better."

Lupo agreed.

"What we wanted people to take away from this program is not to work in a day-to-day mode," Lupo said. "By that I mean take some time, three hours when you can find it, for strategic planning. Take a longer look down the road and form long-term pictures and go


"Don't just be 'in' your business, but be 'on' your business."

Lupo reminded entrepreneurs that "hindsight is 20/20," adding they should take what they've learned in their business and look to the future.

Two of the program's graduates certainly bought into what the program was selling.

"I learned that I need to be working on my business rather than in my business," Welforce Administrators President Kirk Rouse answered when asked what he was taking away from the program. "This has been one of the best business classes I have ever taken, and I highly recommend it to any small business out there."

The Lemonade Marketing firm's Miloy Schwartz described the program as "fantastic."

"My degree is in journalism and my focus was on advertising and marketing, but I have no formal business education," Schwartz said. "I feel as though I have just gotten an MBA crash course in business, and I think I now have the tools we need to succeed.

"I would definitely recommend this program to any and every small business wanting to expand and grow their business."