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Entrepreneurship & Small Business Classes

Mid-Continent Public Library

Innovation Summary

In an effort to better serve our diverse community, Mid-Continent Public Library formed a partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Missouri Small Business and Technology Center to provide necessary business start-up classes in communities that did not have viable local resources.

Innovation Leader: Kimberly Howard, Program Manager, khoward@mymcpl.org

Problem Statement

The wide variety of communities served by the Library includes many that do not have the typical resources designed to guide small businesses and support entrepreneurs. In these communities, the Library serves an even stronger role in answering questions related to the development of small businesses. However, in a struggling economy, the Library felt there was a need to move beyond our current resources to help this audience find answers to their questions. What was needed was a way to connect aspiring business owners with those who could provide critical expertise.

Innovation

MCPL created a partnership with the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to offer a series of business development classes at locations where there is not ready access to similar resources. The series includes classes on writing and evaluating business plans, working with loans and lenders, following Missouri state regulations for creating businesses, and more. The classes are presented by current and former business owners from the metropolitan area eager to share their expertise. Each time the series is presented it takes place over 5 weeks, generally on Saturdays. The classes are participative and encourage attendees to utilize one another as ongoing resources.

Progress

Classes held over the past two years served 274 aspiring business owners. The majority of participants in the first class, Basics of Writing a Business Plan, were between 45 and 64 years of age. Most lived in a neighboring community to the host branch, and a significant number were frequent library users. One hundred percent of respondents said they gained knowledge from the classes and more than ninety percent reported feeling motivated to pursue their business plan further. In addition to the knowledge learned in the classes, the series has introduced this group to other library resources that can aid them in their goals.