ROGERS PARK — A new entrepreneur training center wants to help Far North Side Spanish-speaking residents get their business ideas off the ground.
The Rogers Park Business Alliance has expanded its GROW entrepreneur training program to include classes for predominantly Spanish-language speakers. Called GROW/Progresando, the new program will be run out of a storefront at 7056 N. Clark St.
A ribbon cutting was held Thursday at the new business training center, where local officials will help to keep Rogers Park’s small business community thriving.
“One of my favorite things about Rogers Park is all our entrepreneurs that keep us a healthy, safe and thriving community,” said. Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).
The Spanish-language small business training program is the first of its kind on the North Side, according to the business alliance. Similar programs are more common in neighborhoods like Pilsen, said Rebeca Fernández, bilingual program manager for GROW.
An architect and building consultant from Mexico, Fernández moved to Chicago in 2006, where she learned to speak English while trying to build a consultant business. She knows how difficult building a business can be when language barriers exist.
“The Latino community, they feel comfortable with someone whose been in their shoes,” Fernández said. “I know what it’s like to try to be independent, to start a business with a little bit of money. I want to teach them how to start a business on the right foot.”
GROW/Progresando offers one-day intensive classes and a 10-day program for budding entrepreneurs. Established business owners can also stop in for consulting appointments or to have questions answered.
A lot of businesses opened by the Latinx community are food operations, Fernández said. Such businesses cost a lot of money, require a lot of licensing and inspections and are notoriously competitive. The business program will help entrepreneurs learn tools like online marketing, but also to know what businesses are already established in the area.
The Rogers Park Business Alliance has hosted small-business training for some time out of its offices at 1448 W. Morse Ave. But the group noticed that a language barrier was causing some in community to miss out on the available help.
Thanks to a $114,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation, the business alliance has been able to help more people achieve their small business goals.
“In the Rogers Park community, more than 70 percent of businesses are small start-ups,” said Sandi Price, executive director of the business alliance. “Our entrepreneurial training programs fill a great need in the neighborhood and we also know there are current and future small business owners across Chicago that will benefit from this expansion.”
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