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REACH Women’s Business Center opens in Clanton

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

REACH Women’s Business Center has located in Clanton to help aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners in Central Alabama.

It is a project of The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship in Huntsville and made possible through a grant from the Small Business Administration.

Austin Bullock, REACH project manager, said they began working in the area in late August, but a physical office was not established until the end of September.

“We chose Clanton because it is the center of the state, and it is a great place to be,” Bullock said. “There is a lot of great small businesses and a lot of entrepreneurs right here in Clanton. It is also a great way to reach people in the surrounding areas.”

An open house will be held on Oct. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bullock said he has already begun meeting with clients at the office.

The center is located on the second floor of River Bank & Trust, 620 2nd Ave. N in Clanton. To reach the office, the public should take the elevator to the left of the entrance from the parking lot.

Bullock said the center will also be launching its involvement in the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready initiative at the open house.

This initiative is a “partnership with Verizon Wireless, Next Street and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rural,” Bullock said.

Bullock said the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready classes are free and can be completed at one’s own pace.  Each online learning session walks a person through the steps needed to establish or grow their business.

The center will be offering opportunities for “one-on-one coaching with professionals with The Catalyst or professionals in marketing, in accounting, various … business aspects.”

REACH is looking for professionals willing to volunteer their time as coaches is something.

“Those volunteers are very critical to what we do,” Bullock said.

Classes and training will also be offered. Because of COVID-19 concerns, many of these classes are offered online or as a hybrid right now with the hope for in-person classes to start in the near future.

Bullock said there are some standard classes that are offered, but there are also classes created based on specific needs in a community.

He said the center can help established business owners learn how to use new software programs for accounting, developing a social media presence, etc.

A Business Resource Center will be available for business owners to come and have access to computers and high-speed internet.

“They can work on business plans, or maybe they have to file some paperwork with the secretary of state to get established, or maybe they need a place to work on some of those classes,” Bullock said.

The hope is to have the Business Resource Center open by the end of this month or early November.

Future plans would be to host discussion meetings and conferences.

Classes are available for entrepreneurs at each step of the journey.

“Some of our focus areas include women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs, startups and new ventures, entrepreneurs, veterans, government contracting, information and technology, but we’re here to help everyone in their small business journey,” Bullock said.

The center will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those interested in setting up a one-on-one or more information can contact 256-428-8190.