Circle of Care’s new program supports local entrepreneurs

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

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Circle of Care has a new program for innovators and entrepreneurs in the Valley area.

The Innovation Center is an entrepreneurial resource that offers resources and tailored advice to individuals in the community. Circle of Care Director Jonathan Herston teamed up with the Chambers County Development Authority to create the resource center. 

“We do recruit industries in business, and our goal is to create jobs, but not everyone fits into a mold of what kind of job you want,” said CCDA Deputy Director Chris Busby. “We’ve always wanted to make sure that anyone who has a career path or a job that they want to do has that opportunity to do it.”

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Markedrick Dawson, director of innovation and entrepreneurial development, was recently hired onto the Innovation Center. Dawson, from Valley, served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years and later became an entrepreneur. 

“From our staff, from our board, I’m thrilled that he is here,” Busby said. “I think he’s going to do a fantastic job. He has blown us away already with his abilities and knowledge. And I think with him leading this that we’re going to see it grow. We’re going to see it become more known in the community, and we’re going to see a lot of successful new businesses pop up out of it.”

He now runs two successful trucking companies, Dawson Global and Elite Global. Recently, Dawson returned to bring his businesses back to his hometown and has brought his financial and business expertise to the program. 

“I’ve always wanted to come back and help my community grow and help the people in my community and expose them to actually things that I’ve experienced and learned along my journey,” Dawson said. 

As part of the program, the Circle of Care facility can house one up-and-coming business as well. Searchlight, a counseling service, has grown to house three therapists, two licensed therapists and one licensed associate professional counselor. 

Therapists Kristina Thurman and Emily Plank have worked out of Circle of Care offices for the last two years. However, as the business continues to thrive, Searchlight will soon outgrow its current space and will be moving forward. 

Since purchasing its facility, Circle of Care has been able to focus more of its funds and office space on its community programs. 

The major areas of the family unit that Circle of Care focuses on are family life, safety, resources, relationships and finances. With the Innovation Center, entrepreneurs get access to resources for building a business that can help families thrive. 

“For us at Circle of Care, our goal is that every child has their best opportunity to thrive,” Herston said. “And we realized that that happens when the family thrives.”

The Innovation Center aims to help cultivate sustainable entrepreneurial and job opportunities and stimulate a positive economy for the area. 

The goal is also that the center creates opportunities to generate economic growth and brings opportunities in work fields like technology within Chambers County, rather than residents moving to a bigger city. 

“Placing people in tech jobs and helping tech businesses start up is really critical, not necessarily today or tomorrow, but as we look down the road at how the economy’s gonna shift in the coming years,” Herston said. 

“We want people to feel that they’re safe here, and they don’t have to go to Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, or different places, but they can actually start to grow and stay here with their businesses,” Dawson said. 

Herston said he also hopes that individuals who may not traditionally consider a career in a technology field will use it as a chance to pursue those skills.

“It really became a priority to provide a pathway for them to be successful and give them the tools to be successful,” Busby said. 

The program is accepting sponsors and legal, accounting or business professionals who are interested in lending their expertise to the Innovation Center.