City of Palm Coast opens doors to AAEA

by: Julia Kline-Fuentes

The African American Entrepreneurs Association has announced a new site for entrepreneurs to connect with AAEA and Minority Business Services. After some great discussions and strategic planning, the AAEA has partnered with the City of Palm Coast and will be customers at 160 Lake Ave. at Palm Coast City Hall. Previously, meetings could be scheduled at either 601 Innovation Way (main office) in Daytona Beach or at 2153 SE Hawthorne Road, Suite 101 (GTEC) in Gainesville, or remote meetings in Flagler County. This adds a third location for entrepreneurial growth and opens a new chapter in minority business support for entrepreneurs who will now be able to host mentoring and business growth meetings locally in Flagler County.

Leslie Giscombe, Founder/CEO of AAEA, a longtime Palm Coast resident and entrepreneur, said seasoned entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners can now receive mentoring and business plan reviews, as well as several other options for accessing capital. AAEA is able to introduce microfinance options and capital support to these often underserved businesses.

“I think the most important thing is partnerships and staying true to your mission,” Giscombe said. “Because we have complied, our partners support these efforts.”

Meeting with Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin and Chief Community Development Officer Jason DeLorenzo, who spearheaded the effort, the city is excited to add the African American Entrepreneurs Association as a resource for entrepreneurs in the community.

“Business and economic opportunity is not only a strategic priority for the City of Palm Coast, it is critical to the future success of our community,” said Alfin. “Leslie has a track record of success here locally in the community and also brings great local experience. Helping him build on this success will benefit the residents of the city of Palm Coast from a great collaboration. ”

“This is a great opportunity for Flagler County’s local entrepreneurs,” says Giscombe. “The AAEC was also founded here in 2016. … This is a measure of how much can be accomplished when the community comes together to support the growth of African American and minority businesses. I appreciate the willingness not only to talk about inclusion, but to act accordingly. This is the first mayor to embrace that vision of not just talking about inclusion, but making an effort and being aware of how to do it. He did it with the community in mind, knowing and looking at who our partners were and what we have to offer. That’s the important thing.”

Giscombe and Alfin reiterated similar missions as they discussed the positive impact the African American Entrepreneurs Association will bring as an asset and help open up opportunities for all residents working to start a thriving Palm Coast business or expand.

“Our Business Assistance Center has changed over the years how it works but we still have a fairly robust mentoring system and this will only complement that mentoring and allow our new businesses to grow and our existing businesses to expand continue to grow and continue to meet the community’s labor needs,” said DeLorenzo.

“We’ve also looked very closely at the foundation and underpinnings of this vision that we’re talking about,” Alfin said. “Cities will only thrive, they will only be sustainable if they are balanced. We work every day to create this balance for the future.”

The AAEA offers consulting and educational services to help entrepreneurs with the information, resources, and education to help their businesses achieve and sustain long-term success.

Member services available at the new location include:

  • consultations
  • Education & Mentoring
  • workshops
  • corporate economy
  • Microfinance Opportunities
  • Business Plans/Marketing Plans
  • Social Media Marketing

The AAEA was formed to develop and create economic development through entrepreneurship within the underserved African American and minority community through education, mentoring, workshops, group economics and microfinance opportunities. The AAEA focuses its partnerships with companies and organizations committed to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion. It is imperative that we support and work together as a community. For questions or concerns regarding the AAEA, call 386-234-2014 or visit us www.aaeassociation.org.

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