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Sierra Commons launches May fundraising campaign to support local business people

Submitted to The Union

May is Small Business Month, which can provide people an incentive to start new businesses.

For a decade, a business boot camp series called the Business Ignitor Course has helped create hundreds of jobs in Nevada County through core classes, accountability meet-ups, and mentoring. The course, designed by the nonprofit group Sierra Commons, is a “Wayfinder” to success for many new entrepreneurs.

This month, the community is invited to give back and show financial support to this programming by donating to the Wayfinder Campaign to keep micro-enterprises and the local economy thriving. The goal is to raise enough funds to help launch 10 new businesses. For every $500 raised, one business will get the support needed to prosper.

As of last week, over $1,500 has been raised during the campaign. In addition, Waste Management has donated $500, and another $500 was donated by an anonymous donor.

“As the donations flow in, we’re getting pumped up,” said Robert Trent, Sierra Commons executive director. “The donations we receive today are super important. We know that Nevada County will depend on our services even more in the next few years. Local entrepreneurs need to be nimble and adapt quickly.”

People can choose different donation levels, such as the $500 Adventurer, $250 Trailfinder, or $100 River Guide. For many, the region’s natural beauty is intimately tied to the quality of life found here and makes Nevada County a destination place to work and live.

There are currently 16 adventurous students taking Sierra Commons’ Business Ignitor Course. Some are starting new businesses. Others are seeking to expand.

Other recent grads have successfully launched their businesses. Travis Duckworth, director of Sol Learning Institute, teaches sustainable living skills to young people. Youth are building tiny houses, chicken coops, and greenhouses and helping to make a positive difference in the world.

“The Ignitor Course really prepped me to handle the back end of things, the business side of things, from managing finances to marketing,” said Duckworth. ⁠


For over 10 years, Sierra Commons’ Business Ignitor program has helped people develop their ideas from mere concepts into full-fledged established businesses.

Some well known businesses launched after program enrollment include Fable Coffee, Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Company, InnTown Campground, and Elixart. The program with a strong foundation in local job creation has footholds in many different industries, from technology to health and wellness, to food and sustainable living.

Amanda Daley, proprietor/roaster at Fable Coffee, recently opened a second location in Nevada City on Broad Street in addition to her Grass Valley storefront next to the Del Oro Theater. She said the business skills she learned at Sierra Commons gave her the confidence to branch out.

“I took the Business Ignitor Course at Sierra Commons, and it really inspired me to push forward and do a second location,” said Daley.

Sierra Commons offers one-to-one advising in marketing, technology, and accounting and provides affordable infrastructure such as co-working office space, virtual meeting space and broadband internet on demand.

At the Nevada City shared space at 792 A Searls Ave., participants open doors to connections with other business owners and economic development organizations in Nevada County and the greater Sierra Nevada. Each month, the public is invited to a free Lunch and Learn series sponsored by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Small Business Development Center.

“As we emerge from the global pandemic, Nevada County is reimagining our relationship with work. Sierra Commons is ready to support local entrepreneurs so they can thrive in this new economic landscape,” said Robert Trent.

No participant has ever been turned away from programs because of financial need. Sliding scale tuition and scholarships are available because of ongoing community support.

Learn more at http://www.sierracommons.org.

Founded in 2009, Sierra Commons is Sierra Nevada’s first co-working space and the only 501c3 nonprofit co-working facility in Nevada County.

Source: Sierra Commons

The students of the 2022 spring Business Ignitor Course.
Shelby Cohen Photography



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