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The Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday announced the launch of The Business Institute to help build the capacity of small- to medium-sized enterprises across the state.

SALT LAKE CITY — With so many area small businesses struggling to expand their bottom line, a local organization is developing new programs designed to help them improve their chances for long-term success.

The Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday announced the launch of The Business Institute to help build the capacity of small- to medium-size enterprises across the state. President and CEO Greg Summerhays said the programs offered through the institute are aimed specifically at providing business owners with the comprehensive knowledge they need to reach higher levels of success.

“There are tremendous resources for startups and entrepreneurs in our community, but we are lacking resources for our existing business owners," he said. "We believe that it is the role of the chamber of commerce to provide those necessary resources to help companies to grow, increase their annual revenues, create jobs, and get more customers."

Speaking to an audience of local business owners and managers at the Microsoft Store at City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City, he said beginning this spring, the institute will host several different academies to provide a variety of training resources for businesses.

Programs will include the Business Accelerator Academy, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a Sales Academy, the Marketing & Advertising Academy and a Legal & HR Academy, he noted.

"An important part of (the academy) is changing behaviors of business owners to really work on their business and not just in their business," Summerhays said. "This program helps you to dedicate (time) thinking about strategizing about your company and analyzing things that are working, things that aren't working and how to make the necessary changes."

The programs will be offered to member businesses throughout the state, he said. Participants must be an established Utah business in operation for at least three years with a minimum of two payroll employees and annual revenues between $250,000 and $10 million. Applications must be submitted before March 23.

Attendee Aubrey Murray, executive vice president of Perpetual Storage Inc. — a maximum security data storage facility in Sandy — said learning to implement new strategies can help companies improve their chances for success. She said programs like the Business Accelerator Academy could help her company and others like it become better versions of themselves.

"These programs are great because in a short period of time, you get a lot of information and you're also working in groups and working on your actual businesses, not something hypothetical," she said. "That gives you the impetus to want to better even more."

"If businesses aren't learning constantly and absorbing (knowledge) constantly, then they become irrelevant," said attendee Ed Roberson, business development director at JourneyTeam Technology Solutions in South Jordan. "One of the things these academies can bring to the table is to enhance the ability (for companies) to deal with (the ever-changing business environment)."

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The Business Accelerator Academy, The Business Institute’s signature program, is scheduled to launch in April, Summerhays said. The chamber has partnered with the Small Business Administration to offer a curriculum that will include up to 100 hours of training taught by a qualified professional business instructor. The program will be hands-on, using a peer-to-peer cohort learning model that includes CEO mentoring groups, live cases and help to build a three-year strategic growth action plan for individual businesses, he said.

“We are proud to offer a program that will help businesses thrive,” said Nathan Anderson, board chair for the Sandy Area Chamber. “This program has been shown to increase (annual) revenue for companies that complete the program."

He added that developing the local business ecosystem will help the state's economy remain vibrant.

"This curriculum will help established business owners participate in a transformative learning process that will help their bottom line,” he said.