LAS VEGAS, NV – The Downtown Vegas Alliance (DVA) in partnership with the Urban Chamber of Commerce, Latin Chamber of Commerce, Prestamos CDFI, LLC and Niche Marketing is pleased to announce a new small business incubation program made possible through support from the City of Las Vegas. The no-cost program is primarily intended to help minority-owned small businesses in the City of Las Vegas.
“We know minority-owned small businesses face disproportional challenges when it comes to access to capital, business connections and mentorship, to name a few,” said Carolyn Wheeler, executive director of the Downtown Vegas Alliance. “This program focuses on addressing these issues and more by providing participants tools and templates to run their business, access to capital through an optional lending circle, and connections to potential contracts with other large and small local companies.”
In order to be considered, potential participants must have a current city of Las Vegas business license, revenue under $500,000 per year and low or unestablished credit. The program includes two six-month sessions, with limited seats available for each. The application period for the first session is now open through March 3. Detailed information and the online application in English and Spanish are available at smallbusiness.vegas.
Once accepted, participants will go through a series of once-monthly, in-person training sessions supported by online materials available throughout the six-month course. Led by Niche Marketing’s Rohena Miller, who has created similar, successful programs for major corporations including Bank of America, Mastercard, and Caesars Entertainment, participants will learn strategies, best practices and how-to techniques to help their businesses grow, build credit and connect with potential purchasers. Participants also will have access to a series of online modules and templates that include step-by-step guides for business plans, non-disclosure agreements, social media best practices, financial planning and other important resources for running a small business.
The Urban Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Chamber of Commerce will provide one-on-one mentors for each participant to offer guidance, support and connections to help ensure completion of the program, implementation of the practices learned, and ongoing advice on running and growing a successful business.
Program participants also will have access to an optional, credit-building lending circle program executed in partnership with Prestamos CDFI, LLC, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Participants may choose to contribute either $250 or $500 per month for the six-month length of the course. Upon completion, they will be given a grant in the amount of their monthly contribution to be used toward operating expenses, and they will be eligible to a receive a secured loan in an amount double their total contribution (either a $3,000 loan or a $6,000 loan).
According to Wheeler, the lending circle and loan components are intended to instill a culture of savings among program participants and to help build credit ratings, as Prestamos CDFI will report activities to the credit bureaus.
Upon completion of the program, participating businesses will receive complimentary one-year memberships in the DVA, Urban Chamber of Commerce and Latin Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the DVA will connect participants with large local companies to be considered for requests for proposals and approved vendor status, which will help build a diverse supplier network for the larger companies and provide potential new sources of revenue for the small businesses that complete the program.
“We are very proud to offer this innovative approach to supporting small businesses,” added Wheeler. “While similar programs focus solely on capacity enhancement, our program also includes credit building and corporate connections to form a more complete business-building circle for our participants.”