Opening the GATE to Business Success

Program Fosters Strategies for Start-Ups
Job displacement is a harsh reality that many people have been forced to face over the past few years.

But a new government project is designed to help foster new strategies for those who have been laid off. The Richmond GATE project, funded by a Department of Labor grant, seeks to bring displaced workers back into the workforce by helping to give them the necessary tools to start new small businesses in Virginia.

Project Richmond GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship) began in July and will continue during the next two years.

“The demographic of people we’re working with – 45 years and older – they’ve been hit the hardest by the massive layoffs,” said Wesley Smith, the project’s director. “It’s pretty much a job creation program, trying to get these people back to work and hopefully start a new business and hire more people.”

The project offers several classes and workshops giving these hopeful business owners the advice and tools they’ll need to be successful. The classes range from building business plans to learning bookkeeping and accounting.

The classes and workshops are free to participants, who also are connected with a counselor to assist them. Free consultation from business experts is included as well.

A partnership with the Community College Workforce Alliance allows for many of the classes. The CCWA is a workforce development program of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College that offers non-credit training to corporate, government and non-profit clients, as well as individuals.

“We offer non-credit training, skills assessment, and other services to employers who need to send their staff to us for workplace training,” said Nina Sims, director of marketing and sales for the CCWA. “That ranges from computer training to the area of manufacturing, business communication, writing, strategic planning and leadership.”

Jim Hribar was among the first participants accepted into the program at its start in July. He is currently involved with the program and is in the beginning stages of
opening his own small business, Uniquely Fore Her, a women’s golf apparel store.

“The facilities we have with the CCWA, with GATE, are helpful. Just to be able to meet with other people and have the classroom setting that is very professional, like you’re in a corporate setting,” Hribar said.

Displaced workers interested in the program may attend an information session, learn more about the project and its focus. If they’re interested in participating, they may submit an application at that time. Applicants are randomly selected by a third party company, and if accepted, start the training by meeting with a counselor.

“When we first met with the business counselor, we go through some parameters trying to understand the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and the things you want to do for your business,” Hribar said. “The counselor can basically take this data and figure out where you’re at in your business, where you can start and what other resources you need to start your business.”

The current recession may raise questions for some about whether now is a good time to start a new business. But Hribar believes that the timing is great, especially with a project such as GATE to help.

“It’s kind of an opportune time,” Hribar said. “It doesn’t happen overnight; sometimes it takes months to plan ideas and to get whatever you’re going to do for your business started. Even though it’s a down economy, when the economy does come back, it would make your business stronger. If you can survive in this economy, then when it comes back up you’ll be able to survive for sure.”

Hribar, while still involved in the beginning stages of opening his business, believes one of the best things about the GATE program is the group environment it offers. The program’s participants can share ideas and suggestions with each other, and the counselors are always available for the participants to speak with, even after finishing.

The GATE project was implemented in 2002 in other states. Officials hope that the second round of the project, which includes Virginia, will enjoy similar success. The main focus of project organizers now is getting more people involved.

Orientation sessions for the Richmond GATE project are held twice a month. Those interested in gathering the tools needed for small business ownership are encouraged to attend. For details, visit http://www.RichmondGate.org.
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Community

project:HOMES’ ‘Renew Crew’ helps Henrico citizen


The project:HOMES "Renew Crew" (above) recently assisted an elderly member of the Laurel Presbyterian Church in Henrico by clearing brush, trimming hedges and raking leaves in her yard.

The Renew Crew serves low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners in need of small-scale home repairs such as porch, railing and step repairs, exterior painting, clearing overgrown yards, tearing down outbuildings, wheelchair ramps and other critical repairs and accessibility modifications. > Read more.

Alzheimer’s Walk raises $436,000


More than 2,000 people participated in the the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter's annual Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s Nov. 5 at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook. The event raised more than $436,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support programs and research.

The event is one of three walks that benefit the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond and is held in celebration of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month.

Donations to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be accepted through the end of the year and can be made at http://www.alz.org/walk. In total, the three walks this year have raised more than $644,344. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


The past couple of days haven’t felt like it, but it’s finally December and this weekend is packed with holiday events. Kicking the weekend off is Glorious Christmas Nights’ production of “Finding Christmas” at West End Assembly of God. Gayton Baptist Church’s annual Jazz Nativity starts tonight. Another annual favorite is tomorrow – the tree lighting at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. In search of Christmas concerts? The Virginians Barbershop Chorus will present its annual Christmas Show tomorrow at the Collegiate School and the Richmond Choral Society will perform Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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Caley Cantrell, author of “Dogs Do NOT Love Holiday Cards” and “You’re Bringing Me a Baby?!” will sell copies of her books at an adoption event hosted by AARF (Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation) from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Petsmart at Libbie Place Shopping Center. All proceeds from book sales will go to AARF. Cantrell is a professor and head of the Communications Strategy Track at the VCU Brandcenter. She and her husband Sean live in Richmond, where they are raising their daughter with help and guidance from the dogs they adopt from local shelters. Full text

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