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FLINT, MI — For the past nine years, University Outreach has offered business workshops at the Innovation Incubator, a free co-working space nicknamed [IN], located in the Northbank Center on the UM-Flint campus. Now it is taking IN on the Road, a 5-session workshop series, to convenient neighborhood locations across Flint so more community members can take advantage of an intensive training in starting a business and financial literacy.
The first IN on the Road business boot camp was held in February at Joy Tabernacle’s Urban Renaissance Center. A second camp was offered at Holmes STEM Academy in March, and a third camp exclusively for young people was held at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint in April during Spring Break. The final bootcamp will take place at Asbury United Methodist Church on Davison Road, June 1, 3, 8, 15 and 22. The boot camps are offered at no charge to the public. [IN] on the Road can be adapted for both teen and adult audiences, with the youngest graduate being 10 years old. Local entrepreneurs answer questions and share their own experiences as business owners with participants to instill confidence.
A final celebration will be held at Berston Field House June 24, 1-4 p.m. The event will include a graduation ceremony for all participants who attend at least three sessions as well as a business pitch competition for young people who graduated from the workshops to help fund their start-ups. Up to ten young people will be awarded $500 each. Additionally all bootcamp participants are eligible for additional business assistance from UM-Flint’s University Outreach after the boot camp is complete. To overcome potential barriers to accessing the downtown services, participants can receive free bus passes to cover travel to the campus.
The curriculum, which was developed by UM-Flint School of Management faculty member Dr. Amy Gresock, breaks down the start-up process into manageable steps focusing on idea generation, customer discovery, marketing, financial literacy and establishing the business.
“We heard from our stakeholders there was a need for financial literacy and entrepreneurship training throughout the city. But often, a lack of reliable transportation can be a barrier for community members,” said Nic Custer, program liaison. “So we decided the best option would be to take our business counseling on the road and work with residents and business owners in their own neighborhoods so as many people as possible can access the service.”
The IN on the Road program was funded through support from the Ruth Mott Foundation and UM-Flint. The teen bootcamp session was funded through a partnership with the Michigan Small Business Development Center. Participation in the final June bootcamp and celebration event is free and open to the public but registration is required at go.umflint.edu/IN.
As a program of UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach and EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development, [IN] on the Road tries to make education more accessible by offering participants opportunities to test their ideas, work in teams and build a strong foundation for their future success.
(Article courtesy of University of Michigan-Flint’s University Outreach)