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CASH program provides support for new businesses
An eight-week small business training program held its graduation on Tuesday night, giving 22 individuals a foundation intended to increase their chance of success.
“This class was very valuable to me,” said Heather Cole of Port Orchard, who participated in an effort to reposition her existing home design business. “It helped me focus, and showed me how to develop a business plan. And I learned how to find funding sources that I didn’t know about.”
The class is offered through Washington CASH — an acronym for Community Alliance for Self-Help — which runs the eight week course four times a year. It is free to participants below a certain income level, aside from a $40 materials fee.
Many program attendees are starting a new business while others — such as the three South Kitsap participants in the latest class — are looking to improve the operation of existing businesses.
It is not only for novices. Jean Boyle of Suquamish, who spent eight years working for the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau, is using the class to build a foundation for a local tour company.
“I learned a lot about planning and marketing,” she said. “It helped me pay attention to the little things. And I am smart enough to know there are a lot of things that I don’t know.”
“It’s a very thorough program,” said Stuart Walton, who directs the 10-year-old Kitsap program. “We keep statistics about economic progress and measure how people are doing after six months or a year. We have found that 82 percent of our clients become self-sufficient within 18 months.
“We help them to set goals, manage their business and control their spending habits.”
The next step for the graduates is a follow-up program that tracks their progress.
Walton said 17 of the 22 graduates are participating.
He noted the program is funded by grants and private contributions, with about half the total budget provided by Kitsap County.
He said he didn’t know either the amount of the total budget, or how much the program received from the county.
Kitsap County Auditor Financial Services Manager Dave Schureman said CASH received approximately $46,000 in 2009 and was due to receive $75,000 in 2010.
He said the county administers and distributes the money, but it does not come out of the county budget.
The CASH program can also provide a short-term fix. Purple Fig Catering owner Lina Docken had several bad months and was almost evicted from her facility in downtown Port Orchard, but CASH gave her the tools to stay afloat.
“The program rekindled my passion for my business,” Docken said. “It allowed me to build new partnerships. When I was hurting no one would speak to me. The class showed me where I could get assistance.”
Kris Colcock and Marty Cartwright are part of the Spirit Wind West cooperative in downtown Port Orchard, respectively working with essential oils and massage. Both said they learned techniques in the class to make their services more marketable.
“It gave me focus and the ability to put all the numbers together,” Colcock said. “You can only do so much on your own.”
Cartwright is blind, a fact she’s using as a marketing advantage.
“Many people are self-conscious about their bodies when they get a massage,” she said. “They don’t have that issue with me.”
The graduation was attended by Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, who said the local economy will support viable small businesses as long as they follow a deliberate path.
“You may have heard about the ice rink here in Bremerton that had $4 million in support but went out of business,” Lent said. “This happened because they did not have a business plan. ”
Lent said that every successful businessperson needs to be “constantly networking.”
CASH is currently recruiting for the next class to begin on March 23, with a March 16 orientation.
For more information call (206) 914-4824 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.