Micro-enterprise businesses and start-ups in Nevada City looking for a leg up in their industry can take advantage of free business classes that will be offered every Tuesday at the One-Stop Business and Career Center, July 8 to Aug. 5. The five-class session is funded through the city’s Community Development Block Grant, also known as CDBG.
“We’ve contracted with the Small Business Development Center out of Sacramento so they’re providing the trainings,” CDBG Program Manager David Nelson said. “These trainings kind of create a synergy for people who attend, and it’s not just the classes but it’s the students, they seem to feed off of each other and create some excitement, which feeds the loan and grant program. So I’m really excited.”
The classes will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day and will include financial topics such as business basics, business plan guidelines, book keeping, branding and marketing and social media. Nelson, who runs the business loan, grant and training programs for the CDBG, said that in order to qualify for the free business classes or any aspect of the grant program, a business owner must meet specific requirements.
First, the small business can not have more than five employees, including the owner, and there is a residency requirement.
“If you do not have a business yet, you have to live within the Nevada City limits,” Nelson said. “If you do have a business, the business has to be located within the city limits. Now there are ways you can get around that. Sierra Commons, they’re a business incubator, so you can sign up for their services and have their mailing address, which is in Nevada City, and they have a membership special right now at three months for $99. So that’s a way to do it.”
To qualify for CDBG you also must meet an income requirement that is based on a business owner’s household size. A family of one cannot make more than $40,550, families of four can make up to $57,900, and a family of eight can make up to $76,450.
“So they need to register with me before showing up. I need to ensure they meet the program requirements,” Nelson said. “Other components we provide are counseling. So if you qualify for the classes, you qualify for the free business counseling, and we’ve contracted with Sierra Commons for that.”
Sierra Commons’ founder and board member Robert Trent says his group has been providing mentoring services for the city program for the past five years.
“What we intend to do with the program is work closely with students of the training, and other people who qualify for the program, to provide them with highly personalized attention so they get the help they need to become successful business owners,” Trent said.
Trent says that for each class session, a student gets three hours of personalized mentoring. Both services give the business owners an advantage of putting together a business plan that can get them a loan or a grant. Nelson said the CDBG offers grants up to $10,000, and loans up to $50,000.
“I think once people start to hear about the grants, I’m going to be pretty busy,” Nelson said. “But there’s different levels of review.”
For the classes and the counseling programs, the city allows business owners to self-certify what their income is, but for the grant and loan program, business owners need third-party documentation to verify their income.
“We’re going to be offering these same business class sessions at least three more times throughout the next year,” Nelson said. “And people who don’t qualify for the classes can still go, but they would have to pay a $40 fee.”
For more information, contact Nelson at 530-346-7195 or Nevada City city hall at 530-265-2496.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.