Become a part of the Ascend Business Development Program!

The Greater Memphis Chamber is looking for participants in the Ascend Business Development Program. This program pairs large, successful businesses and corporations - referred to as Leaders - with intermediate and advanced small businesses - referred to as Members - to provide mutually benefecial development assistance.

For a period of 12 months, selected small businesses will receive invaluable business development assistance at no cost to them. It is our hope that this Leader/Member relationship will enhance the capability of program participants to be competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success and contribute to the strength and vigor of the local economy. The following are examples of the types of developmental assistance a Leader may provide to a Member:

Accounting Records Preparation & Maintenance

Assessment of Organization Structure

Bidding & Procurement Process

Bonding & Insurance

Business Planning & Development

Capital Acquisition

Financial Management & Reporting

Human Resources/Personnel Management

Joint Ventures

Legal Assistance


Marketing Plan Development

New Business Acquisition

Operations Assessment


Rent-Free Use of Facilities and/or Equipment

Strategic Planning

Technical Assistance

The program can also address other needs Member businesses may have through the development of a customized plan. Upon completion of the program, Members will receive a certificate of completion and the Leader-Member team will become eligible for an Annual Chairman's Circle Award, which is given at the Chamber's Annual Chairman's Luncheon.


To be eligible to participate in the Ascend Business Development Program, small businesses must meet the following critieria:

1. An intermediate or advanced small business.

Intermediate Business

We define an intermediate business as:

  • 3-5 years in business

  • Annual revenue of at least $200,000

  • Minimum of 3 employees

  • Appropriate certifications/bonding where applicable

  • Ability to initiate relationships and understand the contracting process

Advanced Business

We define an advanced business as:

  • 6+ years in business

  • Annual revenue of $500,000

  • Minimum of 5 employees

  • Experience managing contracted business

  • Appropriate certifications/bonding where applicable

  • Building and expanding relationships, contracts with government and private sector business

2. A small independently owned and operated business, residing in the City of Memphis and/or Shelby County. We welcome the participation of veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business, economically-disadvantaged and minority-owned small business.

3. Cannot currently be participating in another business development program. We strongly recommend that Members do not try to complete this program while working with other programs so that Members can devote their full attention to developing a good relationship with their assigned Leaders and take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as possible.

4. Willing to commit to working with a Leader organization for a period of 12 months. Sessions begin in November 2016 and commence November 2017. You will meet a minimum of once a month.


If your small business could use some assistance from a successful, seasoned business, click the link to complete the application. Applications will be screened to ensure that the businesses selected meet the criteria and can benefit from the program. Those selected will move to the next round of the process, which includes an interview. Once the final selections are made, Member participants will be contacted and paired with a leader.

Leader and Member businesses will be determined no later than November 15th. For more information, contact TRUST Marketing at 901.521.1300.