CHICAGO (CBS) -- Down Clark Street, in the heart of Roger's Park, sits the one of the main forces behind supporting the Northside community's small businesses— the GROW/Progresando Program hosted by the Rogers Park Business Alliance
"We offer sessions in the spring. It's a 10-session program and in the fall it's a five-session program…where we bring in all the experts," said Sandi Price, President of the Rogers Park Business Alliance.
"We bring in lawyers and real estate professionals, someone to help you with entity selection. [It can be] very confusing. Do I open an LLC or sole proprietorship? What does that look like? And so we have people who can help with that, people who can help with marketing, how you should market your program, how much you should be charging for your services or your product," said Price
What makes this program unique? Business owners can take it in both English and Spanish, like Plus Bookkeeping business owner Nancye Rivera.
"I had the advantage of being able to participate in both programs…because I'm bilingual. The Spanish program means a lot to me because it helps me master the language of finance in Spanish. So I'm able to speak confidently, just as I do in English," said Rivera
GROW/Progresando is the Business Alliance's pointed effort to meet small business owners where they're at and bring the resources directly to them.
"We knew that we had to come to them, that they weren't going to come to us because they're so busy and they spend so much time on their business. So we opened this training center on Clark Street, which is the heart of the Rogers Park Latino business community. And they do come here and they get help– not only with the entrepreneurial training program, but with technical assistance," said Price.
With several new grants in their pocket, including over $99,000 from the city's Small Business Storefront Activation Program, the business alliance has over $200,000 flowing into the Rogers Park small business community.
And that's why GROW/Progresando is completely free for all participants.
"The Progresando program is really critical for Latino entrepreneurs because this program will give them all of the resources and information that they may be afraid to ask about because they don't know how to pose it in English. But in Spanish they have all the resources that they could possibly need," said Rivera
Before joining the program several years prior, Rivera said that she and other small business owners didn't have a group they could go to for comprehensive guidance and coaching— especially not coaching that was offered in Spanish.
"It was just me and my computer and Excel. But now…I have four subcontractors that are bookkeepers. I have a virtual assistant, a marketing coordinator and a web designer. All of them are women and four of us are Latinas. So as my business grows, their business grows," said Rivera.
The Grow Progresando program is open to all small business owners, not just those in Chicago. With virtual programming and flexible scheduling, Price says the program is modeled to fit into a small business owner's life while providing relevant, valuable information at zero cost.
Participation in the program also comes with membership to the Rogers Park Business Alliance, where business owners can find more resources and tools to help their venture thrive.
Learn more at grow-progresando.org.
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