SEDCO launches RISE

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The SEDCO board of directors has launched a new program aimed at offering financial support for entrepreneurs and new startup businesses.

 Program to increases support for entrepreneurs

Throughout December, Sherman Economic Development Corp is accepting applications for  its new Raising Innovative Sherman Entrepreneurs program, also known as RISE. The program, done in partnership with Austin College, will offer a total of $250,000 in potential grants to fledgling businesses in the area in hopes of fostering growth.

The SEDCO program is aimed at assisting local startup companies and entrepreneurs.

"Basically this is for young companies that are less than five years old that are type A eligible," SEDCO President Kent Sharp said, adding that this includes manufacturing and other businesses that primarily sell outside of the community. "They can earn up to $100,000 through this program and SEDCO."

The program will be held in the form of a competition for its first year where entrepreneur pitch their company and the projects they would like to support with the funding to a board of local representatives. The grants offered through the program range from $25,000 to $100,000.

The idea for the program came from Sharp who instituted a similar program during his work in Abilene before coming to Texoma.

The program was discussed by SEDCO earlier this summer when it approved its work plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The update included new focus areas for SEDCO including programs aimed at fostering entrepreneurial ideas. The budget for the current fiscal year includes $250,000 for the project.

If approved, the company will be given a loan by SEDCO that will convert into a grant based on the number of years that the company stays active in production in Sherman. For requests under $75,000 this will come at a range of 33 percent each year, while large requests will be forgiven at 25 percent annually.

Sharp said programs like RISE are needed in order for local markets to remain competitive and attract business in 21st Century.

"To be competitive in economic development you have to have a program for young, startup companies ... that can get capital to them because Texas is not a venture capital rich state.

"In Grayson County there isn't a lot of capital. If someone has an idea here they are likely gettingsupport from family members or they are going to the bank."

Applications will be accepted through early January. The winners of the program will be announced during an event in May.

"It may seen like they have five months, but really they have until April to do the bulk of this,: Sharp said.