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The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation announced Wednesday it will launch a diversity focused business accelerator program this spring.

The CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center program is a partnership between the Jacobs Center, the city of San Diego and business accelerator organization CONNECT. The program will target diverse San Diego-based startups dealing with financial disadvantages, with a goal of increasing economic development in underserved communities.

The program will accept applications through Jan. 16 for the inaugural group of participants.

“We are extremely excited to begin accepting applications for our first group and to kick off the business accelerator program that will provide the tools and resources that local entrepreneurs and business owners need to survive and thrive in today’s hyper-competitive market,” said Jacobs Center President and CEO Reginald Jones. “Together, we will be working to expand and strengthen our local economy by making it more diverse and inclusive.”

Companies in the free six-month program will work with expert mentors in a 4,300-square-foot space at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center that’s outfitted with business necessities such as high-speed internet and printers. Companies that aren’t yet ready for the program also have access to a free business resource center.

“It’s a fact that diversity in startups is good for the bottom line,” said CONNECT President and CEO Greg McKee. “By establishing these practices from the beginning, these companies foster corporate cultures that are open, inclusive and innovative.”

The program is funded by a $2.5 million Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private funding from program partners like Union Bank. Startups and entrepreneurs interested in applying to the program can visit connectallsd.org.

–City News Service