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CEDAR RAPIDS - A new business-development program launched by NewBo City Market is designed to help residents who want to start a business spread their wings and open up shop.
The Cedar Rapids market announced the creation of the Hatchery Jan. 25 as an entrepreneurial development program expanding from its Business Incubator.
The program is aimed at working with underserved people in the community who want to start a retail or food business.
The not-for-profit incubator has been in operation since 2012, focusing on local economic development.
Julie Parisi, NewBo City Market's director of business development, said the idea for a program like the Hatchery had been around since she started in her position two and a half years ago, but the current COVID-19 pandemic put the needs of businesses into focus.
Parisi saw how the pandemic especially hurt many small businesses, and wanted to help break down barriers to entry for those potential entrepreurs who want to create a business in the community.
'We're looking at people of color, immigrants, (people in the LGBTQ+ community). They typically face more barriers than others do, whether it's getting the guidance for business development that they need or getting access to loans and that kind of resources and information and education,” Parisi said.
The Hatchery offers grants to participating businesses in the form of a rent discount. This discount will last a year and remain steady for the first six months, then decrease for the last six months.
This is to help businesses acclimate to their rent prices, Parisi said.
'The idea behind both a regular standard business incubator that we do and then this more defined Hatchery program is that we're trying to get start-up businesses to acclimate to what life might be like, as a business owner, outside of the market,” Parisi said.
The program also will provide personalized business development guidance, vital sign check-ins and continuing business education.
The guidance can come from Parisi or other sources she said, such as the Small Business Development Center.
Before offering a lease, Parisi said, they go over four criteria:
A business plan
How the business will be formed
A product-cost analysis
A marketing plan
After they receive a lease, the Hatchery will check in with monthly sales evaluations and quarterly meetings to go over issues such as clarity of purpose and customer engagement.
Education will come from other local business resources and organizations with which NewBo will partner, according to a news release, and they also will serve to reach more entrepreneurs.
Participating businesses will need to attend at least one education event, such as a seminar or roundtable discussion, a quarter, Parisi said.
'As an entrepreneur you're wearing a lot of hats, so it's hard to make time to learn, and so that's why we built it into the program,” Parisis said.
One business, local health and beauty boutique Herbally Anointed, already has entered the program.
According to the release, Herbally Anointed owner Jessice Renee had first worked with the market when she brought products to the Black-Owned Business Guest Vendor Markets.
'I wanted to have a personal connection with my customers,” Renee said in the release.
'Being here at the market has allowed me to meet so many new people and help them find what they like in my products.”
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