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With new businesses opening in and people moving into Chipley, the Chipley Redevelopment Agency is looking to administer a business mentoring program.

A business mentoring program has been “proposed by and approved by the Board of Commissioners of the Chipley CRA as an initiative to provide guidance, support, and mentorship to local entrepreneurs and businesses located within the CRA District,” an ordinance before the Chipley City Council also approving the program reads.

The program was discussed during a City Council workshop on Thursday, Feb. 8, and is up for formal approval at a future meeting.

“It’s part of a revitalization of a project that was done several years ago and, then, for various reasons, was dropped,” CRA and Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Maxwell said. “Our Board has been talking about it. (CRA Board Member and Washington county Tourist Development Council Director) Heather has been an incredible driver on that.” 

The CRA has been coordinating with the Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida for matters such as reviewing business plans, Maxwell said. A certified public account on the Board of Directors has also reportedly agreed to volunteer her time to help with new business finances. 

“Hopefully, once this is going, our initial goal is two businesses per year,” Maxwell said. “We just think it could be a tremendous asset to the community–certainly, for the businesses. We’re very excited about it.”

Mayor Tracy Andrews said she has heard “great reviews” about the program.

City Councilmember and CRA Board member Kevin Russell said the CRA Board is “very active.”

“I’m very happy with what you’re doing,” Councilmember Linda Cain said to Maxwell. 

In other CRA news, the hiring of a part-time administrative assistant for the CRA was also discussed. The assistant would make copies for CRA meetings, filing paperwork, and ensuring the CRA stays on top of applications.

Maxwell said the assistant is intended to “take a little bit off my plate and shoulders to free me up.”

“We’re just thinking 20 hours to start with, probably Monday through Thursday,” Maxwell said. “Maybe a nine to two or 10 to 3, working events as we need. There might be some flexibility.”

The need for an administrative assistant to help Maxwell has been previously discussed by the City Council. 

Formal approval for the assistant position will also come up during a future City Council meeting.