The Missouri Women's Business Center in Fulton has had a productive first few months of operations, according to Director Jamie Freidrichs.
"We've already helped two new businesses start," Freidrichs said. "Eight is our goal for 2017. That's throughout the eight-county area (we serve), but I'd like to see as many as possible of them in Callaway County."
The Women's Business Center, in the Callaway Chamber of Commerce office, had its official ribbon-cutting in October. In partnership with Central Missouri Community Action, the center provides services like one-on-one business counseling, seminars, in-depth classes and help applying for financial assistance.
"It's about building economic opportunity for everyone," Freidrichs said.
While the center has no income cap for using its services — indeed, it even welcomes men to drop in for a visit — it emphasizes helping low-income business owners get started and stay strong. By doing that, Freidrichs said, new jobs are created in a community, which can help other low-income individuals.
For example, the center helped a small painting business apply for a micro loan so it could afford to pay its employees while waiting for customers to pay it.
"We're going to have a focus group soon with the Callaway Chamber of Commerce about creating a women's networking group," Freidrichs said.
In February, the center will launch its Coffee & CREAM (Callaway Reaching Entrepreneurs and Managers) business workshop series. Monthly lectures by experts will cover many facets of business ownership, from presentation skills to marketing. Each event costs $10 and falls on the fourth Tuesday of the month.
"In small businesses especially, one or two people have to know about every aspect of the business," Freidrichs explained. "Most chefs don't open their own restaurant because they love the business side."
The first lecture features accounting tips and registration is available online at bit.ly/2jDpa9a.
However, the center has faced a few challenges. Open only one day a week, its client base is growing slowly. Plus, the Small Business Administration grant that allowed it to open is a matching grant, meaning the center responsible for raising part of its own funding.
"We're always looking for sponsors," Freidrichs said. "It's a great way for businesses to show their support for the small business community."
The Woman's Business Center plans on posting a new job opening sometime this week — it's looking for another business counselor to help serve entrepreneurs in the eight-county area.
The Missouri Women's Business Center is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. every Monday at 510 Market St. Online information is available any time at mowbc.org.