Women’s Business Center picks out its new locations

photo of small business development center
The Boise office of the Small Business Development Center Accelerator will be one of the homes of the Women’s Business Center. Photo courtesy of Small Business Development Center

Idaho Women’s Business Center sites will be located across the state through 2020, according to more detailed information about the project from the organizer.

The Small Business Administration announced June 17 that it had agreed to fund two Women’s Business Centers (WBC) in Idaho, one in the Treasure Valley and one in the Magic Valley.

The Idaho WBC will be hosted by the Idaho Hispanic Foundation under the direction of the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, with the University of Idaho as a co-partner.

photo of diane bevan
Diane Bevan

But starting in 2020, the second grant will expand to other portions of Idaho as well, said Diane Bevan, president and CEO of the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Grant 1 of $150,000 will initially cover the Treasure Valley and Magic Valley until October 2020, at which time the Magic Valley will transition to Grant 2 as a full grant, Bevan said.

Grant 2 will initially be a half grant of $75,000 and will start a slower initial growth area for Pocatello to Idaho Falls and Rexburg and some Idaho rural areas, Bevan said. Many training sessions will be hosted in University of Idaho extension offices, she said.

In addition, the organization signed leases on July 2 to host the Nampa and Boise offices within the Small Business Development Center Accelerator locations, Bevan said.

“They’re affordable and honestly, a great fit and partnership,” she said.

Bevan will work out of the Boise office on Idaho St., which will be open by appointment only. The Nampa location on East Terra Linda Way will host the director of programming with some set and some flexible hours, with occasional evening and weekend classes.

“In phase 2, we will add a client coordinator to the Nampa office,” she said.

The Twin Falls office will be located within the same building as the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and will have set walk-in hours and occasional evening and weekend classes, Bevan said.

The organization will also open an office in Idaho Falls in October and hire a full-time client coordinator with some set and some flexible hours.

With the locations settled, the organization is now working on staffing.

“We are starting the hiring process immediately for a director of programming that will be a statewide position until October 2020,” Bevan said. “Then a second one will be hired to cover the area serviced by Grant 2.”

The organization also formally announced its ribbon cutting ceremony on July 19 at 10 am in the second-floor rotunda of the Idaho State Capitol. Guests include Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, who served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship from 2017-2018 and was instrumental in having the grant awarded; Allen Gutierrez, associate administrator of the office of entrepreneurial development within the SBA; and Jessica Flynn, founder and CEO of Red Sky, who was recently named as a board member of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC).

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Jessica Flynn

“Across the country we’ve seen how Women’s Business Centers help support increased participation by women entrepreneurs in the U.S. economy, particularly those who’ve been underserved or excluded,” Flynn said. “For Idaho’s economy to continue to grow for the benefit of all, we need more women starting and scaling businesses. These are the companies that bolster local economies and rural economies across our state. I’m thrilled to see that Idaho ingenuity and collaboration is bringing a WBC back to Idaho in this unique form to serve more women and more communities.”

In November, the NWBC is planning to partner with the Idaho WBC on one of a series of roundtable discussions nationwide to support the growth of women-owned businesses, Flynn said. The Idaho session is not yet scheduled but will be held in Boise, according to the NWBC. It will focus specifically on women entrepreneurs in rural areas and will be based on the organization’s Rural Women Entrepreneurs: Challenges and Opportunities Report, published on May 8.