The Importance of the RISE Program

February 19, 2024 | Written by: Campbell Wheby

Early group of RISE participants (2020) gather to learn as a part of the program.

Entrepreneurial dreams start early in one’s mind and they can linger there, or they can turn into a task to accomplish. For many, the starting point can be daunting, and guidance is needed to turn all the thoughts into a thorough plan. Small businesses are the cornerstone of a thriving community and we, the Chamber, have been their strongest advocate.

In 2020, in collaboration with Central Carolina Community College’s Small Business Center and Downtown Sanford, Inc., the Real Investment in Sanford Entrepreneurs Program, otherwise known as RISE, began. The program is designed to help entrepreneurs launch their business or assist existing entrepreneurs in Sanford learn best practices for business success. The eight-class program guides participants through the business plan writing process while learning concepts, practices, and tools needed to increase their chances for a successful business in this competitive commercial environment.

One of the greatest benefits of this program is that it is free for all participants! A free program that gives insights on how to run a profitable business, from financing options and taxation to understanding legal references, and ends with a small business plan to take a startup to the next level. At the conclusion of RISE, participants can choose to present their business plan to a committee of business professionals for a chance to win a $5000 grant to help start their small business. This year’s cohort has the opportunity for two entrepreneurs to win $5000 grant each!

Since the start of RISE, Sanford has seen over sixteen small businesses open, thirty-nine graduates, and a total of over forty-eight jobs created! We are proud of the hard work of all the participants, graduates, and small business owners who have contributed to the success of our community. Follow us on Facebook at @Sanford Area Growth Alliance and Instagram at @GrowSanfordNC to see highlights of the successful RISE businesses that are now part of Sanford.

If you are interested in participating in RISE, you can learn more at Let us continue to promote, grow, and support our entrepreneurs.

Susan Gomez, Chamber of Commerce Director