The Washtenaw Community College (WCC) Entrepreneurship Center Renew Training and Grant Program concluded its inaugural year with all 15 original cohort members completing the entire program. Ann Arbor SPARK and Washtenaw County’s Office of Community and Economic Development provided grant funds to WCC’s Entrepreneurship Center to build the new Renew Your Business Training and Grant Program, especially needed during a year of pandemic.
“Thank you to SPARK and Washtenaw County for funding this program and showing real support for entrepreneurs on the eastern side of our county,” said Kristin Gapske, Director of the WCC Entrepreneurship program.
All program activities were accomplished within the planned time frame, beginning with the recruiting and selection of a cohort of 15 business owners from the 48197 and 48198 zip codes, who self-identify as female, minority, or veterans. Activities encompassed a 10-week ReBuildTM course for the cohort, led by Build Institute facilitators, eight weeks of Peer Group Meetups led by three local Business Mentors — all female entrepreneurs of color — and the disbursement of a $2,500 business grant to each business owner.
All 15 attended the final virtual Peer Group Meetup session on May 17, and the three Business Mentors honored each of the members of their small groups with words of support and encouragement, and highlighted successes of each since the program began. It was a celebratory event, and quite the achievement, given that the business owners committed to five months in the program, all the while enduring a pandemic and negative impacts of COVID on their business revenue and customer base.