STOCKTON — Cindi Fargo has two goals for a new program that will be hosted by the Downtown Stockton Alliance starting next month.
The director of the DSA wants to provide the neighborhood do-it-yourselfer or talented cook or aspiring jewelry designer with the needed business knowledge to transform a skill or a hobby into a moneymaking enterprise and a career.
And Fargo is hoping that in the process, some of the small businesses that spring from the new program someday will set up shop downtown as part of an ongoing revival of Stockton’s urban core.
“We have to be looking everywhere we can for opportunities to create local enterprises in downtown and put them in small retail locations,” Fargo said recently as she sat in her third-story office overlooking Janet Leigh Plaza.
The DSA is partnering with BBVA Compass Bank and the city to host a series of nine-week, 27-hour entrepreneur workshops at a cost to participants of $45.
Four cohorts of workshops are planned. There’s room in each cohort for 10 to 12 participants, Fargo said. The initial cohort holds the first of its nine weekly three-hour sessions Oct. 12 at 125 Bridge Place in downtown Stockton. Spaces in the opening cohort are still available.
The DSA has enlisted an Oakland-based nonprofit organization, Centro Community Partners, to run the program. Arturo Noriega of Centro said participants will receive training that includes instruction in marketing, operating and financing a small business.
Participants will arrive with an idea for a business they would like to start, and during the workshop they will develop the plans that could turn their skills and interests into income-making operations. Assistance with finding the financing to start new, small businesses also will be provided, Noriega said.
“At the end of nine weeks, the goal is to have them have a fundable business plan where they have access to capital and will be presenting to their peers,” Noriega said.
“We’re hoping for 10 to 12 business plans at the end of nine weeks. Some will be more advanced than others. But the result is that at the end of nine weeks everyone will have the foundational knowledge to build their dreams in the community and start an economic engine.”
Noriega encouraged residents who have dreamed of turning their skills into a source of personal or family income to sign up for one of the workshop cohorts. He said the ultimate goal is to create an economic “ecosystem” in Stockton.
Noriega also said one of his organization’s key components is its Smartphone app: Centro Business Planning Tool. The app provides step-by-step direction in developing a business plan and is available for free to the general public.
Fargo provided an example of the type of participant she is hoping the workshops will attract.
“Maybe it’s the guy who fixes cars really well and everybody in the neighborhood brings their car to him,” Fargo said. “He’s not getting a big opportunity to grow. It’s hard to get capital that way. So you get this all organized as a regular business.
“All of a sudden it comes into the sunlight, you’re making progress with your business, you’re building clientele, you can do all the things you couldn’t do before. And you have the tremendous opportunity for growth, for an entire career for you for the future, and being independent. ”
— Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or email@example.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.