Local non-profit receives $672K to promote small businesses
COLUMBIA — Over half a million dollars was given to Central Missouri Community Action Friday to start a women's business center.
The CMCA was one of six non-profits to win the grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), even though hundreds competed from thirteen different states.
What the new center will do for women
The grant will amount to $672,000 over the course of five years to fund services to help women launch their own businesses. The center will receive $85,000 of that money within the first six-months to launch certain programs.
"I think this area is very ripe for this kind of initiative and I think we will be able to do some great work in helping people start their own businesses," said Darin Preis, executive director for the CMCA.
The center will provide Kauffman Foundation curriculum to provide classes, workshops, and one-on-one coaching from legal and accounting experts to support women interested in participating.
Preis said even though the center's target audience is women, the services offered will be available to anyone.
"It's for everybody, whether it's for someone who is just starting or someone who already owns a business and is thinking about expanding we will have experts available to help," Preis said.
CMCA's ideal goal: More businesses, better economy
CMCA said they hope this grant will enable hundreds of small businesses to come to Central Missouri, all while helping stimulate the economy.
"We always want to move people up the continuum towards economic stability," Preis said.
Program directors said that even though unemployment is low, there is still work to be done.
"Even though unemployment is very low, there is still a lot of people struggling," Preis said. "We believe that starting small businesses is a way to give more people opportunities to be successful."
Preis said he expects to see the quickest response in Callaway County.
"They are already churning up quite an interest in developing small businesses so I expect that's where we will see the quickest response," he said. "But I don't know if it will be the most rapid growth."
Which counties do the CMCA serve?
The CMCA currently has offices in Columbia and Fulton, but will serve 36 different communities in the following counties: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, and Osage.
Preis said his team will also be reaching out to all the local chambers of commerce and help create women's business networks.
"We are really going to make a point to visit all of the local communities to make sure they have access to the service and that we know what their needs are," he said.
The center hopes these programs will be up and running in the beginning months of summer.