Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SLCC program helps fourth cohort of business owners

Salt Lake Community College has been helping entrepreneurs by offering a program that brings together business owners and local resources to network and ultimately – hopefully – grow those businesses.

The fourth cohort of scholars in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program gathered this week at the College’s South City Campus to meet with small business experts and potential funding partners.

“It’s very clear that the commitment Goldman Sachs has made and the commitment Salt Lake Community College has made together is really strengthening the Utah economy and certainly strengthening our neighborhood and our community and our small businesses across the valley,” SLCC Interim President Dr. Deneece Huftalin told the audience that included 24 business owners. “We can’t think, as a community college, of an event or a project that we would more want to be involved in as part of what we see as one of our missions as a community college.”

The program scholars in the fourth cohort represent businesses that do things like sell coffee, First Aid kits, Greek food, hair products and power cords that don’t get tangled. A total of 26 participants in this group of scholars employ about 500 people – half of the businesses are owned by women. Revenue as of the most recent yearly report for those business owners was about $23 million. This fourth cohort also marks the first one with scholars who represent non-profit and veteran-owned entities.

Scholars each took a turn talking about their businesses before breaking off into groups during a version of “speed dating” that involved exchanging contact information and collaborating with others.

Rebecca Yates, president of ARK Insurance Solutions in Salt Lake City, was the final scholar to speak.

“We have co-created a patent-pending process to help employers actually address the cost of health insurance,” said Yates, who explained how her company works and how her clients are saving money. “We are here (in the Goldman Sachs program) because we are experiencing astounding growth, and we need to make sure we manage it right.”

The deadline to apply for the fifth cohort in the program is May 12 for an August 15 start date. Nationally, the program is investing $500 million in helping small businesses create jobs and grow local economies by providing those who are selected as scholars with “a practical business education, access to capital and business support services.”