Aspiring entrepreneurs are now ready to launch their small businesses after graduating from the Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise Project session on Sept. 21.
The project is a training program to help emerging entrepreneurs start new ventures and grow small businesses. The ceremony was held in the Lee County Sheriff's Office community room in Lehigh Acres.
Graduates Chantell Brown, Julie Camp, Derek Cesana, Ketinna Gadsden-Briscoe, Angela Gozzana, Jonathan Purchase, Lawrence Rice, Andrea Rodriguez and David Virella each received certificates symbolizing their completion of the six-week course.
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Graduates of the Leigh Acres MicroEnterprise session.
The courses, which are guided by local small business mentors, have been held at various locations across Southwest Florida.
Several of the graduates had an opportunity to speak to the crowd about their experience with the class.
"I know this is a whole new me," Virella said of his experience. "This class was such a big help. It allowed me to look at my idea from the outside. These ideas are our future."
Florida Community Bank also was on hand to present a check of $16,600 to the project. The donation "represents an investment in the MicroEnterprise program," said Nancy Merolla, with Florida Community Bank. "Florida Community Bank values our relationships in the communities we serve."
The money will go to a new micro-loan fund to provide collateral for start-up loans for the MicroEnterprise graduates, as well as sponsoring classes in Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral and Port Charlotte.
The next Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise class starts Oct. 8 and will take place at the Cape Coral Nicholas Annex, at 815 Nicholas Parkway E., Cape Coral.
The Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise Project is a partnership of several organizations and provides training for individuals with low-to-moderate income or other disadvantages to start their own businesses.
The program is administrated by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida and is part of Goodwill's mission to help people with disabilities and other disadvantages overcome their barriers to employment and independence.
For more information, visit: www.goodwillswfl.org/ microenterprise or call Elliott Rittenhouse, director of Micro Enterprise, at 995-2106, ext. 2215.