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Applicants sought for 2 mentoring programs

The Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC) is seeking applicants for its 2011 ATHENAPowerLink and Financial Matters mentoring programs.

Financial Matters is a six-month mentoring program that connects women business owners with a team of professional mentors in the financial industry.  In addition to monthly meetings with their mentors, participants attend three workshops on critical financial topics during the course of the program. The program is accepting applications beginning April 1 until April 30. The selected candidates begin the program July 27.

“Financial Matters saved my business,” said Pegine Echevarria, president of Team Pegine, Inc. “My business was failing, and I needed real education about finances and money — I needed to learn to run a business.”

ATHENAPowerLink assists women-owned businesses who are beyond the initial start-up phase meet strict revenue criteria and have been operating for a minimum of two years. Jacksonville is one of only 27 cities nationwide licensed to host the year-long program, which starts accepting applications April 15 until May 31. The program begins in August and will match qualified business owners with their own panel of business professionals, specifically selected based on the business owner’s stated objectives.  The volunteer panel works with the business owner to reach pre-set goals and assist in growing her business.

“My involvement with ATHENAPowerLink provided much needed information to update my company’s financial and human resources processes,” said Hester Clark, president of the Hester Group. “As a result of my involvement with the program, the company doubled its revenue and expanded to Washington D.C. and Orlando. I continue to rely on my mentors to provide me with advice, review, and most importantly, accountability for my decisions.”

Applicants must meet certain criteria for both programs. For Financial Matters , payment plans and limited scholarships are available. Beginning with the 2011 class, Raymond James & Associates is funding a scholarship for one business owner in honor of Linda Larkin Smith, founding Advisory Board member and financial planner, who died in April 2010.  Smith was vice president of investments at Raymond James & Associates and believed that financial knowledge builds independence and strong families.  She was one of the first sponsors and mentors of the Financial Matters program.

To learn more about the ATHENAPowerLink and Financial Matters programs including how to become a mentor, visit the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center at or contact Pat Blanchard, director of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center at 904-366-6640 or

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