JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The JAX Chamber announced Tuesday the creation of Jax Bridges, a supplier development program to connect small businesses with mentoring, capital access and contacts with larger companies to help earn business with established corporations.

The program is designed to be help smaller companies in Northeast Florida grow and to promote supply chain diversification among corporations, said Carlton Robinson, senior director of the JAX Chamber's Entrepreneurial Growth Division.

“This program benefits everyone involved,” Robinson said. “Small companies are looking for growth opportunities and access to the larger companies in the region. Larger companies want to help develop local business and know that when our small businesses expand and create jobs in our community, we all benefit.”

There are two main components to making this program successful: getting small businesses prepared for the opportunity and encouraging large corporations to give these companies an opportunity to earn the business.

“You can’t just tell corporations to do this because you think it’s the right thing to do,” said Derek Lott, senior director of supplier diversity for BI-LO Holdings. “This has to make business sense and this program will get small businesses ready so it will make business sense for larger corporations looking for suppliers.”

The goal of the program is to facilitate $100 million in contracts to small businesses annually, Robinson said.

For information on the program, visit JaxBridges.com.