ATLANTA, GA (Jan. 22, 2024) – On Thursday, January 18, the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) named Jim Bulger as the second annual North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service (NAV) Mentor of the Year Award.

The NAV program offers team-based mentoring, as principled and trained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). NAV launched in 2019 and has been offering free team-based mentorship to North Atlanta startups since.

To honor the commitment of mentors, COED celebrated the first NAV Mentor of the Year last January with Tom Kupec. This year, NAV ventures nominated Jim Bulger as a mentor who has made a significant impact on the success of their personal and professional growth.

“It is my genuine privilege to be part of the NAV program and to be a member of the highly accomplished team of mentors who selflessly volunteer their time to share their professional experience and insights with new, emerging, and growing businesses,” said Bulger. “I am especially honored to be named the 2023 Mentor of the Year.”

Since joining the NAV Mentor Team in 2020, Jim has mentored a total of four ventures and is currently serving on the eden smoothies mentor team and The Highlight Reel mentor team. He delivered over 50 hours of mentorship in 2023.

“The NAV program is true servant-leadership in action, and an opportunity for us, as mentors, to assist new business leaders in their journey while we pay back those who provided the advice and guidance that helped shape our own careers and businesses in the past,” said Bulger.

American Pillar Growers, one of Bulger’s past ventures, recently graduated from NAV after three years of guidance from his team. “Mentors help you realize the potential of your business,” said Clint Ober of American Pillar Growers. “If I could say anything to my mentor team, it would be a profound sense of absolute gratitude.”

“Jim specifically is a great encourager. He encouraged me in ways that truly motivated me,” said Ober.

With a career that began in operations management and progressed to Human Resources (HR), Bulger has an extensive background in a variety of industries, allowing him to provide individualized management coaching and customized HR consulting for ventures.

Bulger is passionate about designing and delivering HR strategies that are built upon communication and collaboration to heighten levels of productivity, efficiency and employee engagement.

He has led HR teams in retail, technology, business services and sales environments in both private and public companies, ranging from startups to corporations with more than 20,000 employees.

Today, he is President and Founder of Woodstock-based WorkThrive Consulting, which aims to increase workplace harmony through leadership coaching and HR consulting.

Beyond his involvement in NAV, Bulger is deeply involved in his community. He serves as a board member of IN WDSTK, is on the Board of Directors for Limitless Disability Services, and is a Caregiver Mentor for Imerman Angeles and National Bone Marrow Transplant Link.

“Curating a support system is vital for small business owners, but is one of the hardest tasks entrepreneurs face,” said Misti Martin, CEO and President of COED. “That’s why NAV was created. Through NAV, our culture of entrepreneurship flourishes because of the dedication, commitment and expertise of our mentors. We want to thank Jim Bulger, and all of our mentors, for their outstanding efforts.”

NAV is made possible through Cherokee By Choice 2.0 – a five-year results-driven public-private partnership aimed at reinforcing Cherokee’s role as a leader in economic development.

As part of the Fresh Start Cherokee umbrella, NAV aims to support startups that are seeking to scale their business towards success. It is the first entrepreneur mentorship program in Georgia to be principled and trained by MIT VMS and represents the 90th MIT VMS sister program.

While headquartered in Cherokee County, NAV reaches the entire North Atlanta area. Learn more about NAV and apply online at



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