Local Entrepreneur Credits JAX Bridges Program

In honor of National Small Business Week, we’re highlighting one of Northeast Florida’s unique programs for micro-enterprises and small businesses – JAX Bridges. Sandy Bartow, vice president of entrepreneurial growth for JAX Chamber, shares a recent success story from the program.

The tech industry is one of the most competitive for large and small businesses alike. In such a competitive arena, many smaller businesses are hampered by the misconception that because the business is small, it does not possess the capability to service larger contracts.

Elyk Innovations is an established, second-stage web development and software solutions company in Jacksonville. Joe Lemire, chief innovator and owner, has been a Chamber member since 2004 and was selected as the JAX Chamber’s Small Business Leader of the Year in 2007. He has spent the past few years concentrating on growing his business.

JAX Bridges, a program of the JAX Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division, launched in July 2014. Joe was a member of its inaugural class. He participated in several programs including 20×20, a verbal presentation tool, financial training and entrepreneurial education.

“For me, it has been the most relevant program the Chamber has to help small businesses grow,” Lemire said. “This program put tools in my toolbox that I didn’t have.”

While still enrolled in the program, Joe had the opportunity to meet with JAXPORT, which was looking for a web design company. Joe employed the capability statement, developed as part of the JAX Bridges curriculum, to demonstrate in a succinct manner Elyk’s ability to complete the scope of the contract. While he couldn’t point to other sites his company had developed, the capability statement helped prove Elyk, as a small business, could fulfill JAXPORT’s needs. Elyk won the contract.

While Joe had a plan in place for getting business, the capability statement has become a key component to securing large projects. Lemire was able to utilize the capability statement to quickly prepare a bid for the Clay County Sheriff’s website. It has drastically reduced bid prep time. Elyk secured the Clay County Sherriff’s contract also.

“The training narrows the playing field when you’re competing for business. I am better prepared to pursue projects that I used to stay away from,” Lemire stated. In addition to helping Elyk streamline their bid process, JAX Bridges has shown Joe how to seek additional capital to continue to grow Elyk Innovations, something he never thought he could do.  He intends to do so this year.

The JAX Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division is proud to offer JAX Bridges and other curriculum designed to support the region’s growing businesses.