- Faith & Family
In today’s struggling economy, many economists believe the comeback of small businesses will be the saving grace. A small business pilot program, Tools for Change, launched here in the Miami-Dade County, recently held its first graduation at the Liberty Square Community Center [6304 NW 14th Avenue], to welcome new business owners in to the community.
“Today is the first graduation for a pilot program [Tools for Change] that was funded by Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development,” said Eric Thompson, who works with students in the program. “This program really means the world to our students. This program takes people that are single moms, the head of households and lets them know that if you do your neighbor’s hair or you do your neighbors nails this could be a profitable business for you. All they need is the support and that means so much to them.”
The program is aimed at selecting people that live in public housing taking them through a series of workshops. After each student completes the program the student is awarded a grant of 25 to 50 thousand dollars to open a small business. The first graduation class has produced 28 graduates.
Shaheen Woodard, aspiring businesswoman and mother of three, said the program has been extremely helpful to her.
“They were very good people to work with,” she said. “They helped us out with any and everything that we needed. No matter how many times we didn’t get something, they went over it again and again. Even when classes weren’t in session, they still came down to the center to help us with what we needed. One of the more helpful things about this program was the wealth of information we received on how to find different resources. Graduating out of this program is a big step for me because I live in the projects and I need a change of scenery, I need a change of income, everything.”
Gregory Roundtree, a local aspiring businessman, said he hopes to get a grant from the program in the future to open his own trucking business.
“I’m interested in signing up for this program because you know as Black men we need to be more of a mentor to our kids,” he said. “This is a program based on finding help for the ones that really need it. They are giving away free grants to start your own business and hopefully in the future, I will be one of the few to receive a grant.”
By Randy Grice