Southeast Iowa’s growing entrepreneurial economy includes many of Iowa’s newest residents, enterprising Latino immigrants in small communities who are very diverse in age, skills and education. Economic developers, service providers and educators are realizing that one set of guidelines and services’ may not meet the needs and concerns of these diverse entrepreneurs.
According to the Ewing Kauffman Foundation, investments in entrepreneurship education often will lead individuals on a path to self-sufficiency, preparing them to hold good-paying jobs, raise their families, and become productive citizens. Marketing skills, business skills and mentorship are critical components to entrepreneurial success.
Iowa State University Extension supports economic growth and works to improve quality of life by encouraging business development, helping to create jobs, and expanding entrepreneurial activity. In July 2010 the New Iowan Center approached staff at ISU Extension and the Small Business Development Center in an effort to collaborate and offer micro-enterprise/entrepreneurship training for Latino business owners. The group decided to use First Step FastTrac® material from the Kauffman Foundation to help provide entrepreneurship and business education specifically targeted to Latino entrepreneurs.
With the help of a grant through the Community Vitality Center, the classes were offered for 11 weeks in the fall of 2010. The grant provided funds to purchase books and handouts and reimburse guest speakers for travel expenses. First Step FastTrac® classes began in September 2010 and covered topics including business concepts, feasibility plans, products and services, market analysis, cash flow, sales projections and profitability.
“I have always dreamed of owning a business and now I do. This class introduced me to a lot of resources to help me start my construction company and get connected with the right people. I now employ five people fulltime and we have a long-term contract. The future looks pretty good!”- Participant in First Step FastTrac® classes
Last year Hispanic-owned Iowa businesses generated sales receipts of $288 million and had a combined payroll of $54 million. The 10 participants in the First Step FastTrac® class represented a diverse group of current and perspective businesses ranging from party supply to insurance, retail, taxi, engineering, import/export and construction. The New Iowan Center provided translation for the group when necessary and the curriculum was available in English and Spanish. During the course of the program, participants met with representatives from local financial institutions and economic development organizations, as well as successful entrepreneurs and mentors.
The group was uniformly positive about the training and several participants plan to attend further training on Quick Books and account management. Participant comments included the following:
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For more information contact
Mary M. Weinand, ISU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist, 319-931-5087, firstname.lastname@example.org
Himar Hernandez, ISU Extension Community Development Specialist, 641-682-5491, email@example.com