ATLANTA, October 9, 2008 – Some of Georgia’s most promising small businesses are teaming up with dozens of the state’s most respected companies in the fifth class of the Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program, which kicks off this week.

“I am excited to see the potential shown by the newest class of the Mentor Protégé Program,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “Ultimately, all Georgians benefit from the positive economic impact that a diverse, vigorous and productive small business community creates.”

The Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program, which is administered by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is the first state-sponsored program in the nation designed to foster partnerships among successful large enterprises (Mentors) and emerging small businesses (Protégés). The program provides opportunities for participants to improve their business practices, develop relationships with other companies and promote their businesses.

The formal mentor-protégé relationship lasts for 12 months, during which the two teams work together to outline and achieve common goals. As part of the program, Mentor and Protégé companies may take advantage of additional training and technical assistance workshops on a variety of business issues.
Through this program, Protégés learn from the experiences―positive and negative― of leading Georgia companies. These lessons can help small businesses develop strategies for success in today’s highly competitive business climate. Through service as a Mentor, established firms demonstrate their commitment to community reinvestment while discovering new markets and marketing opportunities.

“We are delighted to have a diverse and talented group of Mentors and Protégés,” said Kate Kelsey, manager of the Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program. “As they share experiences and successes over the next 12 months, it is my hope that they reap incalculable benefits from this process.”