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Sierra Commons to start a new business school

Sierra Commons will launch its new business school this fall with $25,000 donated from founding sponsor Ensemble Designs.

The financial gift from Ensemble Designs will enable Sierra Commons to purchase technology, hire instructors and build infrastructure for the new school, ultimately helping create jobs in the community.

“We were inspired to contribute to Sierra Commons’ Business Ignitor School because we believe it will have an impact at the grassroots level on our community’s vitality,” said David Wood, president and chief design engineer at Ensemble Designs.



“When I started Ensemble Designs I was following my passion, a drive to create. Supporting that same drive in others is a way to give back to Nevada County and help it thrive.”

Wood turned his dreams of starting his own company into a reality in 1989.




A former television station engineer who loved designing and building video equipment, Wood left Grass Valley Group to start a new company.

He relished the idea of taking an existing group of equipment and adding a few special pieces in order to create an even more elegant ensemble. He designed and built his first product, and the company was born.

Ensemble Designs currently employs 53 people and does all of its product design, manufacturing, sales and service from the company’s Nevada City location.

Sierra Commons has a notable track record with its existing Business Ignitor program, responsible for helping launch 40 new businesses, creating 42 full-time jobs and 29 part-time jobs and the hiring of 82 consultants since the program’s inception in 2009.

“We’ve been very successful at what we do,” said Sierra Commons Executive Director Robert Trent. “We help individuals follow their passion and start their business. In doing that we look at the community to see what its needs are, so we can help launch a business that not only fits the person but fits the community’s needs. And in doing that, they create not only a job for themselves but also one, two or maybe three other people here and make Nevada County a better place to live.”

Sierra Commons educates and mentors hundreds of entrepreneurs, makes important business connections, motivates people to succeed and creates an entrepreneurial hub for the Nevada County region, Trent said.

“When someone joins our program, they get all the tools they need to succeed and enter a community of like-minded, successful entrepreneurs,” said Trent. “We delve deep into each aspect of what’s required to build a great business — from video blogging to cash flow to guerilla marketing. The school provides a comprehensive business education curriculum that is tailored to our community.”

Trent will lead a panel discussion on the community during a forum “Enhancing the Economic Climate Within Nevada County,” 1-5 p.m. Friday at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City. He’ll be joined in a talk on the “Micro-enterprise and economic resilience in Nevada County” by Sierra Commons faculty member Machen MacDonald, Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council and Bred Smith of the Sierra Economic Development Corp (SEDCorp).

Sierra Commons will offer its six-week course, beginning Oct. 24, to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their business.

“More than a business plan workshop, the course brings together a group of motivated entrepreneurs and guides them through all of the steps needed to create a thriving enterprise,” Trent wrote in a news release. “The approach is action-based and covers topics including business planning, market analysis, marketing strategies, finance, budgeting, web, business law and more.”

Building on its Business Ignitor Courses, the curriculum has been refined and Sierra Commons is providing an additional three months of free membership to top performing graduates, the release states.

Sierra Commons will continue mentoring and housing these graduates to further increase their business success rate. Evening classes are also new to these upcoming sessions, allowing working entrepreneurs to participate while still holding onto their day jobs.

“I’ve wanted to start my own business for some time now and the classes provided me both the impetus I needed to move forward and a foundational knowledge of business structure, financials and sales/marketing,” said Matt Vanderpol, owner of qatab.com and recent Ignitor graduate.

To learn more about the course and complete an application go to http://www.sierra
commons.org/ignitor.

Deadline for applications is Oct. 12. Sierra Commons is providing an opportunity to meet instructors and potential classmates noon-2 p.m. Sept. 25at Sierra Commons.


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