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Ceres Chamber sets up Business Smart Academy
Classes start Monday at Ceres campus
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The Ceres Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Ceres Adult School to offer low- to no-cost classes to budding entrepreneurs and area businesses. The new Business Smart Academy kicks off Monday, April 4 and runs each Monday through May 9 at Walt Hanline Elementary School on S. Central Ave.

The first workshop academy, titled "The Road to Entrepreneurship," is designed to give potential and existing business owners helpful tools, tips and guidance in establishing a new business or advice and direction on maintaining an existing one.

Created through a partnership with Ceres Unified School District, the Stanislaus Business Alliance, Wells Fargo Bank, Success Capital and the local business community, the Chamber hopes to help developing businesses establish a foundation for success through a six-step process including:

• Recognizing personality traits of a successful entrepreneur;

• Defining your business concept with a business plan;

• Estimating start-up and operational expenses;

• Understanding the connection between personal credit scores and financing opportunities;

• Financing your business and manuevering the business loan process;

• Identifying resources for success.

"It's unfortunate when we see a business hold a grand opening, open its doors to the community and then they are gone six months later," said Ceres Chamber President Renee Ledbetter. "We find so many entrepreneurs start without even a business plan or a marketing plan in their arsenal.

"Our goal is to help these new businesses take charge of their future by knowing how much it's going to take to be in business for the next year, know who their market is, know what the community demographics reflect, and what the various ways of outreach are available to them."

During the academy, participants will have the opportunity to submit a loan application to finance sponsors for consideration of an actual small business loan.

Registration for this academy is free to those currently enrolled in Ceres Adult School or who are current Ceres Chamber members. For those non-members the entire course is only $10.

"This academy is very affordable so business owners can't use cost as an excuse," said Ledbetter. "We are personally sending an invite to new businesses that have recently opened in Ceres. We want to see that they stay in business for a long time in our community."

Ledbetter credits the support and funding from the Ceres Unified School District adult education program, which is funding the first academy.

Space is limited so to register, participants must call the Ceres Adult School office at 556-1557. For more information, call the Chamber office at 537-2601.