Training for new business owners starts in Ferry

MARTINS FERRY — The Project Forward community development organization is providing resources to help local entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners with an entrepreneurship class.

The first nine-week course is beginning today, but Project Forward member and area attorney Paul Stecker said if the course is successful, more sessions will follow in the fall.

“This is part of a grant that we had received three years ago,” he said. “It was a Main Street America and Heritage Ohio Grant. The purpose of Project Forward is to help revitalize downtown Martins Ferry. The purpose of this cohort is to help people that are wanting to start a new business or are starting a business but are still getting it going. That’s kind of who we’ve aimed at to help educate them and get it going, give them some of the basics that they need to be successful.”

Stecker said some common needs among new and aspiring business owners will be addressed.

“It starts at the beginning. Really identifying your product or service, what it is that you are providing and really breaking that down in detail, and looking at who exactly is your customer? Who is your target market? And narrowing that as much as possible,” he said. “As the class goes on, it will go into things like marketing, entity formation, the financial aspect of running a business.”

Classes are held once a week at Kendall Behavioral Solutions, 611 Walnut St. Stecker said about 10 people have signed on.

“Ideally, this will be the kind of thing that we will offer again in the future. If the first one is successful, it’s going to be a program that we continue to put on,” he said. “Hopefully we can do one in the fall, where it’s a little easier to come to the meeting.”

“It’s a mix. At this time we did mostly current business owners, people that have already opened a business. We don’t have as many people that are just thinking about opening a business but haven’t quite gotten to that yet,” Stecker said.

The grant allowed Project Forward members to attend educational conferences to equip them to teach the class. The resources, curriculum and training were provided by the CO.STARTERS entrepreneurial support agency.

The first course is paid for entirely by the grant. Project Forward will decide later if future courses will have a cost.

“Project Forward may assume the cost, especially if we feel that it’s making an impact, or it may be something where there’s a minimal cost involved, because if you’re paying something into it, it helps encourage you to make the most out of the time you’re spending there,” he said, adding that there is a risk associated with trying to start a business. “Going through this will help you go into it with your eyes open and hopefully set realistic expectations.”

Stecker said they may also expand the entrepreneurship class beyond Martins Ferry businesses.

“What’s good for the valley as a whole? It’s so small and everything’s so interconnected, it all kind of relates back together,” he said. “Our main focus is on Martins Ferry, but for that class I don’t know that we would limit it.”

The $13,000 grant also helped the organization to file for historical tax designation for the downtown area.

“That is still in process, but once that goes through, it will allow people to apply for historical tax credit if they want to refurbish their buildings or renovate their building,” Stecker said.

Anyone interested can call Stecker’s law office at 740-738-0750. Project Forward’s website is ferryforward.org.


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