2023 Erie Building Growth Cohort

Applications are open until June 9th, 2023, at midnight EDT.


Host & Partner

The Booker T. Washington Center

The Booker T. Washington Center (BTWC) strives to support and maintain a flourishing community. They do this through services, programs, and community outreach designed to reduce the many social, economic, and educational disparities that challenge the youth and families in the Erie area. They embrace people of all cultures by providing academic support, sporting activities, mentoring, field trips, and baby boomers clubs. The BTWC will give the 2023 Erie Building Growth Cohort a meeting location and extra support as the participating small businesses take their journeys in the program.

Learn More

Program Basics


  • Six months of intensive sessions
  • Three months of post-graduation support
  • One learning session and one review session per month
  • The cohort meets for two hours every second and fourth Tuesday of the month
  • Access to mentoring to activate learning and pursue projects
  • Cohort-driven with five participants in a peer group
  • Participants get 40 hours of training and coaching
  • Up to $1,500 for supportive services during sessions
  • Up to $1,500 for supportive services after graduation
  • Access to project opportunities
  • Session attendance and cohort participation enforced
  • Pre and post-program business assessments to gauge the impact


  • Applications opened on March 22, 2023, at midnight EDT
  • Information Session on May 15, 2023, at noon EDT
  • Applications are due on June 09, 2023, at midnight EDT
  • Cohort participants announced on June 19, 2023
  • Cohort orientation on June 29, 2023
  • The six-month session schedule is outlined below
  • The session will end with a graduation event at the BTWC



  • Small businesses based in Erie County
  • BIPOC-Owned (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Small Businesses


  • Small businesses started before 2021
  • Annual gross revenue under $250,000 *
  • Average construction contract below $100,000 *

* If your business operations are close to the preferred eligibility requirements but not exact, we still encourage you to apply.

Our Experts

La’Taunja Martin Cooper

Founder | Martila Enterprise

Martila Enterprise is a professional construction management and real estate solutions company providing clients with the best services in project initiation through project closeout. They aim to become the forefront company offering an unparalleled experience by building trust and valued client relationships.

Francine B. Cameron | CPA & MBA

President & CEO | CPSG, LLC.

Cameron Professional Services Group (CPSG) provides owners with project management, credit analysis, plan & cost review, operational review, fiscal management, and vendor management to organizations undertaking community development projects. CPSG also offers accounting services to for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Christopher Kujawa

President | PDDM Solutions, LLC

PDDM Solutions provides construction and project management services, engineering/environmental design, permitting services, and workforce professional staffing and recruiting. The PDDM Solutions Team has grown and continues to grow because of its hard work and dedication to providing the best services to its clients.

Gather, Learn, and Share

All sessions will be at The Booker T. Washington Center in Erie.


Session Schedule

Is my emerging business ready for larger projects?

Part 1: Learn Session
Thursday, July 13, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Francine Cameron

These first sessions will dive right into the business fundamentals of cohort participants, focusing on financial management tools and what makes them ready (or not) to take on larger projects with more risks and returns. Taskwork will include balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and providing a brief vision for the next steps with legal, marketing, and insurance tools.

Part 1: Review Session
Thursday, July 27, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Francine Cameron

Is my emerging business ready for larger projects?

Part 2: Learn Session 
Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Francine Cameron

These sessions will challenge cohort participants to get honest about their back-office practices and partners. Proper systems need to be in place to meet the needs of various project stakeholders, ranging from clients to subs. Taskwork will include action plans to fill gaps in operations, which can be directly addressed through the cohorts’ supportive services.

Part 2: Review Session
Thursday, Aug 24, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Francine Cameron

How do I effectively pursue larger projects?

Learn Session
Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Christopher Kujawa

When emerging contracting and construction businesses identify new projects they want to pursue, knowing the best practices to win the contract may not always be clear. Taskwork will include pursuing a sample project. Participants will hone their estimating, bidding, and proposing processes needed to compete for opportunities professionally and with a higher likelihood of success.

Review Session
Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Christopher Kujawa

How do I profitably manage larger projects?

Part 1 – Learn Session
Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: La’Taunja Martin Cooper

Larger projects can be exciting initially, with the prospect of increased revenues. But they also bring new and complex challenges. How are you communicating with the clients and/or general contractor? How are you capitalizing on mobilization? How are you managing your subcontractors? These sessions will explore the best practices and lessons learned to ensure your largest project is not your last one.

Part 1 – Review Session
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: La’Taunja Martin Cooper

How do I profitably manage larger projects?

Part 2 – Learn Session
Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: La’Taunja Martin Cooper

Part two of this vital section will explore methods to keep more prominent projects on time and within budget. Cohort participants will share approaches to collaborations and conflicts that inevitably arise at the worksite. Taskwork will include mitigation techniques to handle project issues and ensure that your business succeeds while meeting client needs.

Part 2 – Review Session
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: La’Taunja Martin Cooper

Where do I take my strengthened business from here?

Learn Session
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: Roderick Ramsey

This month is all about turning your learnings into earnings. Participants will synthesize everything they learned over the preceding months into a high-impact elevator pitch to inspire future customers. As part of this process, participants will evaluate their current marketing approach and create a plan of action to be more visible and thriving in the construction sector.

Review Session
Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Expert Guide: TBD

Erie Building Growth Cohort Graduation

On Saturday, January 13, 2024 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm participants will receive a certification of completion and share their visions for growth.

Post Graduation Support

After the six months of sessions, begin the real work.

Graduates will be eligible for $1,500 in additional supportive services to keep making key improvements. The experts that led the session will be on hand for one-on-one coaching as participants exercise new capabilities and confidence in the marketplace. Support will continue for three additional months after graduation. In addition, with more robust business fundamentals in place, cohort participants will be able to consider capital to grow from Bridgeway to take even greater leaps toward growth.

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Let's talk about how we can help.