Small Business Saturdays: Fueling Economic Growth
LA County Library, Calif.
In partnership with the LA County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs (DCBA), this program connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need so start and grow a business. Monthly workshops at LA County Library locations enable in-person connections with government representatives, encourage peer networking, and often result in mentorships.
LA County’s economy is rooted in innovation, offering over $2 billion in venture capital, yet it is in the top 1% of U.S. counties in terms of income inequality, indicating a need for creating new job opportunities to fuel economic growth. Potential entrepreneurs, who abound in LA County, often turn to librarians as a source of business advice, but are unaware of the next steps to take. Small Business Saturdays are a bridge between the trusted library space and the expertise of the DCBA’s Small Business Concierge service.
Workshops are held at a familiar location, the library, and at a time most can attend, Saturday mornings. Locations rotate to reach potential entrepreneurs throughout LA County. In workshops, DCBA presents steps to open a small business, legal requirements, developing business plans and more, while library staff share free business resources the library offers. Guests from the Office of the Assessor and Treasurer and Tax Collector provide tax information, and nonprofits like SCORE connect entrepreneurs with mentors.
The program helps DCBA connect with small business leaders and helps the library affirm itself as a center for learning and a place for community engagement. Steady attendance in 2016 and 2017, averaging 23 people per event, indicated an ongoing need. In 2018, new promotional strategies and community partnerships boosted attendance, averaging 39 per event. 2019 workshops were extended 30 minutes for more Q&A, and attendance so far (in the mid 30s) indicates continued popularity. Spanish sessions will be offered in 2020.