State launches two pilot centers for entrepreneurial success in Eastern Washington
Startup Washington expands with locally-focused centers to help build new businesses
Designed to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn an idea into a viable business, product or service, the Washington State Department of Commerce has launched two new Startup 365 Centers for Entrepreneurial Success in Asotin and Whitman Counties.
The pilot programs are part of a broader economic development initiative known as “Startup 365 Washington,” a growing professional network of public and private sector partners bringing successful tools and mentors from urban business centers together with individual entrepreneurs in rural communities.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship is something I see in every corner of our state, urban and rural. Sometimes the secret ingredient to success is as simple as having an experienced mentor or adviser to help you launch,” said Governor Jay Inslee.
“Successful economic development is local – cultivating community assets to create new businesses and jobs throughout the state,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Connecting entrepreneurs in rural communities with mentors, capital and other resources in urban centers is a proven formula for growth, and these new centers enable that crucial support.”
Entrepreneurs can meet, share, work and learn together through a variety of online and in-person opportunities. In collaboration with launch partners Avista, Greater Spokane, Inc., Southeast Washington Economic Development Association (SEWEDA), Walla Walla Community College and Commerce, Robin Fahle Ohlgren, coordinator for the Startup Whitman pilot program has already arranged numerous events including informal monthly coffees, “Ask the Expert” sessions and sponsored a local team to participate in Startup Weekend Spokane in November.
She has also arranged “Office Hours,” where local entrepreneurs can get a free consultation with volunteer experts on a particular topic essential to their small business success. “This is specialized expertise that they might otherwise not be able to afford or find available in the county,” Ohlgren said.
“This public-private partnership will give rural entrepreneurs a real boost by leveraging and connecting local, regional, state and national resources in a single location in their community,” said Maury Forman, senior manager with the Department of Commerce and Startup 365 Washington coordinator. “Entrepreneurs will have access to angel investment groups and connect with rural and urban mentors without leaving southeastern Washington.”