The Empowerment Zone and IU Northwest Center for Management Development have joined together to offer business training and consulting services to Zone clients.
The Empowerment Zone initiative is a comprehensive redevelopment program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) encouraging development in economically depressed areas. Small business owners in zoned areas of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago qualify for tax credits, job training and other inducements that will help grow their business, which will in turn revitalize the community. The Center for Management Development is part of IU Northwest School of Business and Economics that assist outside businesses using staff and faculty from the school.
Under this partnership IU Northwest offers two to four training sessions each month that address the concerns identified by Zone business owners. A needs assessment was completed in the fall of 2002 to identify what business owners wanted from training and consulting services. Training sessions focus on broad topics such as customer service, setting service standards and service recovery as well as industry specific courses such as “Local Store Marketing for Food Service Providers.” Training sessions are interactive as participants work on issues specific to their business with the tools instructors bring.
“ In many cases business owners have a vision for what they want, they just need some business management tools to help them get there,” said Desila Rosetti of the Center for Management Development. “The Center utilizes IU Northwest faculty and staff experts that business owners may not know are available or know how to gain access to.
The training sessions have provided Zone business owners with learning opportunities affordable anywhere else. Larrice Sims, owner of Eat-N-Run in Gary, said he was struggling to make his business work and ready to give up when a chance meeting with a friend at the bank led him to learning about the Empowerment Zone.
“I was ready to give up, but when he said my shop was in this Zone, I finally had hope,” Sims said. “These classes are eyeopeners, it’s a treat to see what I can be doing and should be doing to improve my shop.
Anthony Fenyves, owner of Anthony’s Café in Highland, spoke about marketing techniques for restaurant owners at one of the recent training sessions in the Gary Empowerment Zone office. Fenyves said he is proud to share his knowledge because he can remember starting out five years ago without having any contacts. He said the sessions are great opportunities for owners to network.
“You can always learn something about business. There are always new ideas out there and it’s hard enough for any owner and, these people are not only trying to build their business, but they have to build up the community as well. I commend all them for taking advantage of this training,” Fenyves said.
For more information on how to qualify for The Empowerment Zone call (219) 397-3738 in East Chicago or (219) 881-4997 in Gary.