MANATEE -- At 6 p.m. Thursday at 302 Manatee Ave. E., 15 people who dream about owning a successful small business in Manatee County will graduate from a six-week course offered by Suncoast Community Capital called "Build-A-Business."
The instructors -- former Denver advertising company owner Art Mahoney and former Arthur Andersen software project manager Carolyn Griffin -- say helping moderate- to low-income Manatee families learn to open and sustain enterprises such as a T-shirt printing shop, yoga studio or a family restaurant is the most important work they can do after successful careers.
"We are helping people be all they can be," Mahoney said Tuesday.
Mahoney and Griffin, known locally for guiding the Small Business Development Center at State College of Florida for seven years prior to moving to Suncoast in January, say they will bring that same passion for helping others to the new job.
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The pair will share the position of interim executive director of Suncoast Community Capital, Chairman Felipe Colon recently announced.
Mahoney and Griffin will replace Tim Dutton, who is leaving April 24 to join the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan after six months as leader.
The Suncoast Community Capital Board is viewing Dutton's departure as a sabbatical, and so are Mahoney and Griffin. They expect Dutton to reassume his duties in 27 months.
"We're merely keeping the seat warm," Griffin said Tuesday. "But we are both excited about the opportunity."
While Dutton is gone, Mahoney, whose advertising company, Morey Mahoney, helped Quiznos sandwich restaurants expand into a national presence, and Griffin, who attended Alabama State University in Montgomery and honed her grasp of finances during a lengthy career with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, say they will keep stoking fires Dutton lit.
Suncoast Community Capital's mission is identifying
approaches to increase the financial stability of families, neighborhoods and communities of low-income people in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
But Dutton made it more hands-on, bringing in Mahoney and Griffin in early 2014 to teach Build-A-Business.
"Our first job is to not mess anything up and keep the programs running," Mahoney said.
"We want to apply for grants and look at developing new financial sources for our new business owners," Griffin said.
Suncoast Community Capital will continue its flagship programs, Bridges to Careers, a partnership with CareerEdge, Build-A-Business and the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program, Colon said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.