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Business center proves to be popular
Written by Greg Ruland   
Saturday, 13 August 2011 08:00

Elise Gibbs-Freeman, center, teaches a computer skills class at Yavapai County Business Assistance Center, located in Old Town, on Thursday, Aug. 4.In five out of the first eight months of operation, Yavapai County Business Assistance Center saw more than 100 visitors, including scores of people who want to start a new business, according to city records.

Counted together, visitors spent as many as 200 hours each month enjoying the benefits of BAC membership, including the use of computer terminals, offices, meeting rooms, and a formal conference room with video capability and a giant glass table.

Members pay nothing for most

of the center’s services, Cotton-wood Economic Development Director Case Rooney said.

The BAC, located at 821 N. Main St., is attracting all types of entrepreneurs, like home office operators who need a place to meet with out-of-town clients or network with colleagues, Rooney said.

“This is a cool place to do business,” he said.

Cottonwood City Council agrees. It voted unanimously Aug. 2 to extend a memorandum of understanding with Northern Arizona Council of Governments that obligates NACOG to fund the cost of an administrative assistant at the center.

In exchange, the city agrees to cover the costs associated with maintenance, upkeep and utilities for the city-owned building, which houses the center for free.

BAC is a partnership between the city of Cottonwood, the Northern Arizona Council of Governments and Yavapai College approved by council in October of 2010, Rooney said.

The NACOG grant that funds the salary for Glenn Pillow, BAC’s first administrative assistant, has ended, but the extended memorandum of understanding means the city will be able to announce a new administrative assistant sometime this week to take up where Pillow leaves off.

Pillow said the skills he learned while working at BAC made it possible for him to transition into an office manager position.

“It’s been the best job I’ve had in my life so far,” he said.

A variety of training programs are offered at the center each month, most of which respond to requests from members, Pillow said.

These include classes on computer programs like QuickBooks and website design, he said.

One of the more popular benefits of membership is the chance it offers members to meet with retired business experts, who review and advise them on their business plans, Rooney said.

Rooney said many people in the Verde Valley who are working from home need to get out and network with other businesspeople. They need a place to meet with clients or even hold employee staff meetings when their place of business is too small or uncomfortable to accommodate such a meeting, he said.

“We would like to see this place be a model for other small communities like Cottonwood,” Rooney said.

“We’re sending a message that we’re supporting entrepreneurs in our community. It’s not all about big, huge businesses. We want to help entrepreneurs who are starting out to grow their small business into something meaningful.”{jcomments on}


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