A salesman, an engineer and a civic club member came together at the right time, the three said, and a new Northeast Georgia SCORE chapter was born.
About 30 people met Wednesday to hear about and discuss the new chapter of the national organization, which aims to provide advice and assistance to area businesses. It will be the sixth SCORE chapter in the state.
The salesman is Charles White, a Hall County retiree and a member of Wisdom Keepers, a program for community members 55 and older started by the of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Vision 2030 group.
The engineer is Fred Eyerman, president of the Richmond, Va., chapter of SCORE. The civic club member is Bill Sanders, district manager for Jackson EMC.
White and Eyerman will serve as co-chairmen of the committee for SCORE.
Sanders said he had been asked by the Rotary Club of Gainesville to lead a committee “to get a mentoring program started.”
He credited Robert Horn and White with providing the impetus to start the new chapter. The Wisdom Keepers program also has been involved in the discussions and in providing potential mentors.
“You have coffee together and the next thing you know, it starts rolling downhill and you can’t even control it,” Sanders said.
SCORE was started in 1964 through the Small Business Administration.
Art Slotkin, the Georgia director for SCORE, said, “We want to make sure every person we touch has the support they need.”
The local chapter will focus on small businesses. Eyerman said Hall County has 3,350 businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
Sanders will provide an office with phone and meeting space for the new group. He said the Jackson EMC building has space available.
He praised the experience and business knowledge in the retiree community in Hall County.
“There are a lot of people” in Hall County with the experience and interest to help, Sanders said.
Eyerman said SCORE mentors “are committed to a client’s success,” and Slotkin emphasized the group’s advisory boards, which he characterized as “like a board of directors, except it’s free.”
The Northeast Georgia chapter also will emphasize reaching potential businesses in the Hispanic community. White said the group hopes to recruit five or six Hispanic businesspeople to form a subgroup and offer services.
Sofia J. Lukas, senior campus director for Interactive College of Technology, asked how information might reach Hispanics who “don’t know what SCORE is.”
Slotkin noted, “That’s why you’re here.” He said the chapter hopes to recruit a more diverse group of mentors.
“SCORE mentors traditionally have been old white men,” he noted.
Slotkin also pointed out the Atlanta chapter works with the Korean Chamber of Commerce. Eyerman said about 40 percent of Gainesville’s population is Hispanic.
The new chapter will focus on Hall and then Jackson counties, but it will serve 12 counties, including north to the state line.
Sanders said individuals interested in SCORE may call 770-538-2522 and leave a message or forward calls.