When those with Rock County Jumpstart collected a directory of black entrepreneurs, they discovered there were 65 of them in Beloit alone.
It’s part of the reason organizers are forging ahead with the business incubator and accelerator known as Rock County Jumpstart. Located at Blackhawk Technical College, the new incubator offers workshops and classes on everything from business plans and marketing strategies to obtaining business loans. Organizers one day hope to move it to its own building.
Those with the business incubator are inviting the community to an event to learn more about it and how they can support it.
The event is designed to introduce Jumpstart to people as well as an opportunity for people to learn how to partner with Rock County Jumpstart as a mentor or coach, said the organization’s founder and Interim Executive Director Genia Stevens.
The Rock County Jumpstart launch event will be held from 5-7 p.m. on March 24 at the Beloit Public Library.
Featured guests will include Cornelius Turner, owner of Ribs, Reubens and More, and Jessica Quince, owner of JSweets.
Stevens said she launched the incubator after seeing positive results from similar ones in Madison where she runs her business, Belwah Media.
“I realized we don’t have programs like that in Beloit,” Stevens said.
Stevens’ plan is to get it up and running and then hire an executive director to run it as she will move to a board position.
Stevens got the final bit of inspiration to start the incubator at last year’s Black Women in Business Expo where she encountered many black business owners with businesses she didn’t know existed.
“Then knowing there are all these programs in Madison for black women business owners is what convinced me Rock County needs an incubator and accelerator program,” Stevens said.
After Jumpstart’s official launch this summer, organizers plan to start outreach in Janesville and other areas of Rock County. Following a needs assessment, Jumpstart will offer classes on topics entrepreneurs say they need.
Rock County Jumpstart lists as its mission providing the education, tools and resources black entrepreneurs need to start, grow and sustain a successful business in Rock County.
For more information people can visit rockcountyjumpstart.org.