Early Saturday morning on November 21st, board members from The $1,000 Start-Ups Consortium were on the move preparing for the final event for the class of 2020. The program, launched in April 2020, promotes economic opportunity by providing entrepreneurship and financial management training and grants to members of historically marginalized communities.

By 6 AM, one of the board’s directors, Pastor Anthony Daniel of Macedonia AME was on the road from his home in St. Augustine. He was headed to his church in Fernandina Beach where the outdoor and socially distanced event would take place.

At the same time Directors Leah Ward-Lee and Sam Lane were taking their dog for an early walk. In the days leading up to the fair Sam, a retired Air Force pilot who’d once commanded an air traffic control unit, continually checked the weather. The morning was already fulfilling the promise of a beautiful day for Amelia Island with no rain in the forecast, although wind up to 10 miles per hour was projected.

Wind was a concern for the pair as high winds had affected participation at the September fair. Three small business fairs are Phase II of the entrepreneurship and financial management program. Designed to introduce the six new business to the community, bad weather would have an impact on community participation.

After the first two fairs, board members conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Since weather in Florida is unpredictable it’s always analyzed as a threat. The mitigating action put in place after the September fair was to include the date the fair would be held if it was called due to bad weather.

Noticing the ground was wet as she walked to her car about an hour later, Leah checked the weather app on her phone. A ten-minute storm had already passed the island and was travelling west and there was no rain projected for the rest of the day.

Since several of the new business owners and many of the twenty-five area businesses scheduled to display lived off the island to the west she knew she needed to give them an update.

She realized at that moment what she’d left out of the plan – a process for quickly notifying the vendors and community if the event was being delayed or still being held.

She quickly sent a group text to three of the new business owners: Connor Fasel, owner of Millennial Touch; Zen Waters of Zen Water’s Earth Healing, and Christine Heibel of Amelia Island Microgreens, asking them to post that the storm had passed through.

When she got back in the car after putting up the fifth of ten signs directing people to the fair, she saw the post Connor, who heads up social media for The $1,000 Start-Ups Consortium, had sent out letting everyone know the storm was gone.

As she was reading his post, rain drops began accumulating on the windshield of her car. She checked her weather app and found it had updated and showed yet another intermittent storm, this one projected to last another eight minutes.

Fortunately, by the time Leah finished putting up the posters the sun was shining. As she arrived at the fair site, Sam Lane and Pastor Daniel were already setting up the first tents and tables and Tony Lee was on his way.

Leah Ward-Lee is the Managing Director of The $1,000 Start-Ups Consortium and author of the book $1000 Start-Ups. To get a copy of the book:

If you live in Fernandina Beach or are a member of Story and Song Bookstore: http://www.storyandsongbookstore.com/

If you live outside of Fernandina Beach and are not a member of Story & Song Bookstore: https://amzn.to/3m28HZj