SAN DIEGO — County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and the University of San Diego launched a small business accelerator program Monday for the communities of Chollas, City Heights, Encanto, Linda Vista, Rolando and Redwood Village.

The Innovate-Up program will leverage roughly $1.5 million in resources from the county and USD to support and invest in local businesses. The program is funded in part by a $300,000 grant from the county to USD's Brink Small Business Development Center.

Starting later this month, Innovate-Up will begin hosting free weekly workshops to offer one-on-one consulting and small group meetings between small business owners and industry leaders, county staff and USD faculty.

At each meeting, business owners will learn about how to bid on local government or university contracts, branding and marketing, how to attract seed money and how to certify a business as veteran-owned, women-owned or minority- owned.

"Innovative products and new technologies don't just come from people living in Silicon Valley; I believe we have that same caliber of an entrepreneur living in Encanto, Chollas, City Heights, Rolando, Redwood and Linda Vista," Fletcher said. "Innovate-Up will cultivate our homegrown talent, and help them to make a lasting impact on their community."

The first Innovate-Up workshop is scheduled for Aug. 22 at the Malcolm X Library. Small business owners can find a full list of Innovate-Up workshops and sign up for them at innovate-up.com/events. Program organizers can also be contacted at 619-260-4547 or info@innovate-up.com.