Smiles were abundant as ceremonial checks were presented to 40 minority entrepreneurs and small business owners receiving grants totaling $142,500 at the May 17 conclusion of phase one of the Aiken Business Coalition Entrepreneurship program (ABCEP).

The goal of the program was to provide minority entrepreneurs and small-business owners with the needed training and capital to cultivate and grow businesses. The program provided four weeks of training and an additional six weeks of coaching and mentorship for new and existing minority-owned business owners and entrepreneurs in the Aiken area.

The grants were funded through a portion of the City of Aiken’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act and is a partnership between the City of Aiken, Aiken Chamber of Commerce, Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce, Aiken County Branch of the NAACP, and Security Federal Bank.

Above clockwise from top left: 1. Carlos Brown with The Yard Barber Land & Development Company Inc. receiving funding 2. attendees at the check presentation 3. Ashley Felton with Tech NIC Ally LLC receiving funding 4. ShaGraila Hammond, director of membership and operations, Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce; Eugene White, president, Aiken NAACP; Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken City manager; J. David Jameson, president/CEO, Aiken Chamber of Commerce; Ronic West, president, Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce; Phil Wahl, president, Security Federal Bank; Gary Meadows, media coordinator, City of Aiken; Lessie Price, Aiken City Council; City of Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon; Kigwana Cherry, vice president, Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce; Michael Strange, executive vice president of community development, public affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion, Security Federal Bank; Michael Hill, Marketplace USA LLC.5. Mayor Osbon and City Councilor Lessie Price at the event.