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Toledo-area business owners stepping up to mentor the next generation

The Northwest Ohio Business Mentoring Program has officially launched for its second year.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Several Toledo area organizations are coming together, launching a program where business owners can inspire others on their own journey.

The Northwest Ohio Business Mentoring Program has officially kicked off its second year.

Lynn Hammerstrom with the program said having a mentor helps new business owners navigate startup challenges. She explained they often don't know where to go, how to register with the state or even how to build a business plan.

"So, we're here to work through all those pitfalls and get those businesses up and running so we can help scale up our economies and watch them grow," she said.

Israelle Nelson is one of the 22 business owners being coached through the Northwest Ohio Business Mentoring Program.

"Coming out of corporate, I kind of thought I could take on the world with my own business," Nelson said. "But, I knew that there were people that have been seasoned in the business that I can get a lot of insight and knowledge from."

She said she's been able to take in advice from successful business owners, while taking steps of her own within the industry. 

One of the 25 mentors in the program is Michelle Pommeranz, a financial advisor who's had several people help her along the way. Now, she wants to pass down that favor.

"I think when you have a community of strong, independent women that own their businesses, it makes the community so much stronger," she said.

It's no secret that business owners have faced a lot of obstacles over the past couple of years. Hammerstrom said launching the program during the pandemic only helps prepare the mentors and mentees for future challenges that might come their way. 

"How do I keep my business up and running? Who can I turn to? Where are those resources," she said.

Nelson said she sees this program inspiring young business owners to step into their passion and pursue their dreams.

"I believe that it shows that anything is possible. So while I'm in art, there are people that in fitness, there are people that are in business services. We all want to grow our business and we all want to help each other," she said.

The Northwest Ohio Business Mentoring Program invites any business owner, at any level, to explore what it has to offer. The participating organizations making this program possible are Women of Toledo, the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce and JumpStart.

The goal is to grow the Glass City as a whole. 



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