The Tele-Guild Project of Jubilee Project, Inc. (a faith-based institution) will help increase the success of start-up small businesses engaged in specialty food production in remote, impoverished counties of east Tennessee.
The project will provide businesses with state-of-the-art laptop computers and create a collaborative online system that will include calendars and production schedules, order fulfillment, inventory and financial spreadsheets, and digital communication tools. The project will develop an e-commerce strategy for the Appalachian Spring Cooperative's website, with shopping cart and credit card capability. The project will also provide CD-ROM and web-based entrepreneurial training and business planning assistance that will encourage participants to e-mail questions and business plans for critique by a network of experienced business people, who will serve as mentors. Widely-used office-suite software and affordable web-based resources will be used to make the project more financially sustainable, easier to use, and more replicable.
These activities will help small businesses reduce costs, reach larger markets, and assist each other in fulfilling orders, learn from each other to improve their businesses, and compete successfully as small startup businesses. The outcomes will be increased profitability, increased sales volumes, and the ability to handle larger orders in order to build business capacity.
Project partners include Tennessee Technological University, Carson Newman College, the Clinch-Powell Enterprise Community, Appalachian Sustainable Development, the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, Hancock County, the Appalachian Technical Education Center, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at East Tennessee State University, Rhea and Rhea Law Offices, Gibson's Tax Service, and Collins' Bookkeeping Service.