Thinking of starting a business or trying to figure out how to take it to the next level? Before you crack open that book or search the Internet, consider the Center for Business & Innovation in Lacey.
The center is a partnership between the Thurston Economic Development Council and its business resource center and South Puget Sound Community College. And the center has found a home in the new Lacey campus of the college, which opened in September on Sixth Avenue Southeast.
Walk through the door at the center and the following services might apply to your business needs:
▪ ScaleUp Thurston: A 14-week program that helps businesses that are beyond the startup stage grow to the next level.
▪ SCORE: The Service Corps of Retired Executives, which offers mentoring to early-stage business owners.
▪ Small Business Development Center: One-on-one counseling for business owners.
▪ Veterans Microenterprise Program: The how-to-start-a-business program, which was approved by the city of Lacey, is open to qualifying low-income veterans who live in Lacey or its urban growth area. Although this particular program targets Lacey-based veterans, the center’s services are open to all veterans, said Celia Nightingale, the center’s director.
▪ Washington Center for Women in Business: The organization has a statewide reach, but also has a significant presence in South Sound. It offers small business coaching to women business owners and has successfully launched more than 100 businesses in the past two years.
▪ Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center: Helps businesses find, bid and win government contracts.
“There is no wrong door here,” said Michael Cade, executive director of the Thurston EDC, adding that all the prospective or established business owner has to do is show up and the center will connect them with the right service.
“Show up and we’ll get it done,” he said.
The business-related programs, some of which previously operated at a different location last year, helped about 1,100 business clients. Cade expects that to grow by another 10 percent to 20 percent this year.
Growth is good, Nightingale said, but it’s also just as important for the new and existing business owner to have a deep and thorough learning experience at the center. “Growth is nice,” she said, “but even nicer is a solid, growing, prospering business.”
In many cases, the programs listed above, unless otherwise noted, are free or offer workshops and classes at competitive rates. For example, the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center charges $135 a year to match businesses with bid opportunities. A private offering for the same service can cost in the thousands of dollars.
Center for Business & Innovation
About: A partnership between the Thurston Economic Development Council and its business resource center and South Puget Sound Community College.
Opened: September 2015 at the college’s new Lacey campus on Sixth Avenue Southeast.
Services: The center, which is home to several business-related organizations, offers a one-stop resource for the person looking to start or advance their business.
Location: 4220 Sixth Ave. SE, Lacey, WA 98503
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Key names: Celia Nightingale, director of the Center for Business & Innovation; Michael Cade, executive director of the Thurston EDC.
Did you know? Before the Center for Business & Innovation opened, the EDC and the business resource center spent a dozen years on Woodland Square Loop in a building that wasn’t the most visible, said Annette Roth, marketing and communications manager for the EDC. “I’m in the loop but I can’t find you guys,” said Roth about the occasional phone call the organization used to receive. Visibility has been enhanced with the move to a new location on Sixth Avenue.