October 23rd, 2018
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08/15/2005 - Women’s Business Center

Although the Inland Northwest Women’s Business Center (WBC) is less than one year old it has already counseled dozens of prospective business owners and helped launch a variety of new businesses. Under new director, Debra Barnes, the WBC has created a new web site, a new logo, and a new mission statement.

“I am passionate about economic development for our community, particularly helping women set and achieve their goals,” says Barnes. “Directing the WBC is a life’s passion, and we have great plans for the future.”

The WBC offers five distinct services: ongoing business counseling, workshops, computer lab, a resource library and basic web development along with website hosting for a nominal fee. Counseling is available at no cost for anyone with a business idea, a business plan to evaluate, or an existing business that needs assistance.

Workshops include business related topics and are offered at different locations around the community. Hands-on business education workshops include topics such as Quick Books, marketing and loan readiness. Less traditional workshops include business etiquette, sales techniques and legal basics. Some workshops are industry specific and target the special needs of certain occupations, according to Barnes.

A resource library will be available within the next few months for off site check-out or for use at the WBC office. The library will also serve as a work area for research or interaction between business owners.

A SAFECO grant was recently awarded to the WBC to purchase a small computer lab. The computers will run business-related software and can be used for writing business plans or for doing ‘homework’ on workshop topics. The WBC also has a staff person to help clients build their own web sites which the WBC will then host.

“We (the WBC) are an evolution of a small business,” says Barnes. “We wrote a business plan, constructed a budget, and outlined a marketing plan – all the things a small business must do. Now we are cultivating our market, and creating our business culture.”

The WBC is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration with the requirement that the WBC must raise both cash and in-kind contributions from within the community.

To learn more, attend a WBC orientation at the WBC office, 827 West First Ave. Suite 121 on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. On the second Tuesday the orientation is noon to 1:00 pm, and on the fourth Tuesday, orientation is 5:30 - 6:30 pm. There is no fee and advance registration is required by calling 747-2821.

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