Business center helps hopeful entrepreneurs make ambitions a reality

Posted at 9:52 PM, Sep 06, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- A business center in Salt Lake City helps budding minority entrepreneurs make their business dreams a reality; students graduated from the program earlier this week with business plan in hand, and most will be up and running within the next year.

Athina Panayibes is one of the students who graduated from the three-moth business course at Pete Suazo Business Center in Salt Lake City.

“It helps you a lot to grow and to actually know what you are doing, and what you are looking for, and what you need too, as well,” Panayibes said.

Nearly 40 students, including Panayibes, were honored this week for completing the course, which is approved by Utah Valley University and requires students to create a formal business plan—a plan that may help them find financial backing and open their own company.

The business plans put together by students cover a variety of industries, from food service and transportation to construction and home services.

Rod Castillo, executive director of the business center, spoke about their efforts.

“Every year we create about 160 businesses, and it never gets old,” Castillo said. “This is great; this is wonderful to be able to help people.”

The center helps hundreds of individuals each year, Castillo said, and they offer classes in personal finance and even one-on-one mentoring for hopeful entrepreneurs.

“They are excited about their product,” he said. “They want to get it to the market, and they want to be able to sell it. And it starts with a great idea, and we teach them the step-by-step how to do it, and soon you can see big, big businesses.”

Eugenia Lopez is one of the recent graduates, and she said it can be hard to open your own business without the kind of knowledge the class provided. She said she hopes to open a green cleaning business.

“I didn’t know how to start marketing or how to get the people to know that I have this business, so that has helped me a lot,” she said of the course.

The center was also recognized for its work in the community this week. State Farm Insurance gave them a Good Neighbor Citizen Grant for $25,000.

“It is very rewarding to see all the graduates, because you know that they are going to be the future of our economy,” State Farm Agent Mary Jose Smith said.

Castillo said the funds will be used to keep subsidizing the classes offered at the center in order to keep costs low for their clients. For more information about the center, click here.