By Denise Dick
Nine Mahoning Valley entrepreneurs graduated from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Initiative, the third class from the program, which is a collaboration between the federal agency, the city economic-development department and the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University.
Linda Kuzior of Redex Industries Inc. of Salem, which makes Udderly Smooth Udder Cream, said she was encouraged to take the class by several people who knew of her company’s plans to expand.
The course, which started in April and wrapped up in October, was a lot of work both in and out of the classroom, she said, but it was worth the time, she said.
Kuzior learned that some of the resources Redex had been paying consultants to obtain, such as Nielsen numbers and market spending, are available for free at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.
She also appreciates her classmates who, as fellow entrepreneurs, face many of the same challenges she does and plans to remain in contact with them.
That was echoed by other graduates.
Gil Goldberg, district director in SBA’s Cleveland office, said the students learn through the Emerging Leaders program that they are not alone.
Rick Sheridan, a certified public accountant and the instructor for the course, said students learn that there’s probably someone in the group who has the same problem they do, could solve their problem or could help them solve their problem.
Goldberg said that in the three years the program has been in Youngstown, 50 people have gone through it, but only 40 have graduated.
“It’s a rigorous program,” he said.
It’s 100 hours in class and outside of class while they run their businesses.
Business owners or executives must come from a company that has done business for at least three years with annual revenues of between $300,000 and $10 million. There is no cost to participants.