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Smart Business @ Your Library

Cuyahoga County Public Library
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Innovation Summary

Smart Business @ Your Library is a series of programs that supports entrepreneurs and small business owners. The series helps entrepreneurs incubate their business ideas and develop long-range plans.

Problem Statement

Cuyahoga County Public Library needed to encourage and assist those who could bring innovation – and jobs – to Northeast Ohio. The Adult Services Department sought to develop programs and workshops that would offer support to community members interested in starting businesses and nonprofit organizations.


The Library’s Adult Services Department created the Smart Business @ Your Library series to support entrepreneurship and business innovation. To provide the best programming and resources to customers, the Library developed and expanded partnerships with diverse organizations such as: • SCORE • Business Advisers of Cleveland • NASA • TiE, a global network of entrepreneurs • Center for Entrepreneurial Success, a program of Goodwill Industries • Small Business Administration Programs include beginner to advanced computer classes, business book discussions and workshops on writing a business plan, marketing on a shoestring and succeeding in today’s global business environment. Series highlights include: • Strictly Business: One-on-one counseling sessions help participants through the process of starting a business. • Club CEO: Business-minded people share success stories and discuss entrepreneurialism in this informal networking group. • Small Business Administration Programs & Services: A representative from the organization discusses how it can help with business creation and expansion. • Creating a Nonprofit: This program helps participants identify their desires for establishing a nonprofit and complete a 501(c)(3) application to become a federally recognized nonprofit organization. • FranchiseFest: Experienced franchisees share concepts and advice with budding entrepreneurs.


As Smart Business @ Your Library grows in popularity, the series’ program lineup expands. One new program is Doing Business with NASA, in which a Small Business Specialist from Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center discusses how to bid on NASA contracts and shares resources available for small businesses. In addition, Smart Business @ Your Library helps nonprofits meet their training needs by providing specific programming around job-related issues. For example, the Library has worked with a senior employment organization, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, to provide financial literacy workshops. In spring 2012, the Library partnered with the Center for Entrepreneurial Success, a program of Goodwill Industries, to offer the Entrepreneur Bootcamp at the Maple Heights Branch. The six-week series helps aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams of owning their own business and assists current entrepreneurs with rebooting their current business. The program covers: • Marketing (branding/positioning) • Vision, mission and value statements • Business legal issues • Business insurance • Financial language and concepts • Financing The Entrepreneur Bootcamp provided 245 participants with valuable business knowledge.