DeKalb County Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson has allocated $200,000 in District 7 Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Operation HOPE to assist DeKalb County small business owners and entrepreneurs who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, lost their business, or have reduced wages as a result of the crisis.

Cochran-Johnson said the appropriation will be used to create the DeKalb Entrepreneurship Training program, an 8-week course free to DeKalb County residents that will guide business owners through the necessary steps of operating a business through a pandemic. The funds will also be used to assist aspiring and current entrepreneurs with the organizational and structural support they need to launch a business.

“I am extremely excited about the DeKalb Entrepreneurship Training Program,” Cochran-Johnson said. “This is the second time I have partnered with Operation Hope to provide economic solutions to DeKalb residents. Recently, DeKalb set aside $15 Million dollars for COVID related small business stabilization and expansion.

“To date, we have only allocated just over $6 million. This was very telling to me,” she continued. “We have lots of business owners in DeKalb who function but lack the proper structure to legitimize their business and receive federal and state assistance. I want to ensure every DeKalb business owner operates with clarity of process and all small business owners have the necessary tools to thrive. I also want budding entrepreneurs to understand how to organize and start their business.”

The DeKalb County Community Development department will have oversight for the program management and monitoring of the funding allocation to Operation HOPE as they enable program participants to gain valuable knowledge on how to start or expand a business, including those interested in online platforms as more businesses opt to exist in a digital space as a result of COVID-19.

The DeKalb Entrepreneurship Training Program will feature hybrid learning that includes self-guided instruction, as well as instructor-led exchange-traded products. Participants will complete an orientation session and eight weeks of training, taking place Tuesdays at 4 p.m. starting Dec. 15, 2020. Upon completion of the program, participants will receive assistance with small business loans and secondary resources to progressively move their businesses forward.

Led by founder, chairman, and CEO John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE focuses on financial dignity and inclusion by partnering with financial institutions, corporations, municipal agencies, and community organizations to deliver HOPE Inside, a community model that provides financial dignity and economic empowerment programming in communities around the country, at zero cost to the client.

“For over 28 years and throughout this global pandemic, our mission has remained the same– to expand economic opportunity, making free enterprise work for everyone,” Bryant said. “We are proud of our partnership with DeKalb County and look forward to continuing to support both their residents and business owners.”

DeKalb residents have been encouraged to register at no cost by visiting

(Photo: iStockphoto)

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