The woman's original plan was to start a residential cleaning service.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Betty L. Myers believes she can fill a niche in the greeting card industry.
The 35-year-old Youngstown resident is developing her own line of cards, "Keepin' It Real."
"I am a recovering crack addict, and I am not ashamed of that," she said staunchly while seated at her computer. "I know I have the experiences that help me know what African-Americans want in a card. I know there's a niche for me."
The biggest problem, she says, is finding the funding for the business she plans to run from her Lauderdale Avenue home.
Myers, who also is on disability for psychological reasons, decided she would use local resources to get her business off the ground. She worked with the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, a program run by the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commissions, but doesn't think she got all she should have.
Myers contends she was informed she would receive financial assistance for her business, as well as help with researching and writing her business plan through the BVR's Enterprise Works program.
Paul Parteleno, a supervisor with the Youngstown BVR office, said for confidentiality reasons he could not discuss specific cases, but pointed out Enterprise Works is not designed to simply give people money for their businesses.
"All of our programs are designed to help people with disabilities who qualify to re-enter the work force," he said.
"We don't give out loans; they've got to have the wherewithal to get financial backing through financial institutions or friends or family members willing to help them."
Myers, who said she originally submitted a business plan to start a residential cleaning service but then switched gears to concentrate on the "Keepin' It Real" greeting card line, said she followed all the instructions, completed all the courses and even made the corrections suggested by BVR members to her business plan.
Rather than get the $50,000 she needs for the business, she got notification that after five years, her case with BVR was terminated.
"I feel like they drug me around for five years," she said.
Parteleno said that not every person who uses the BVR services and programs will make a go of their business, but there's not really any one place to lay the blame.
"In the past, we have had business consultants working with us who could not always make the participants understand that not every business plan is a good one," he said.
Some participants will receive small amounts of funding or equipment purchases through the BVR, Parteleno said, but even in those cases, it is with the understanding that any money received will be paid back, or equipment will be purchased on a lease-to-own basis.
In cases where the business fails, the money and-or the equipment will be taken back by the BVR to distribute to another participant where applicable.