Considering Washington’s experience with the many small businesses that eventually became global giants (like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, Boeing and countless others), Washington State Department of Commerce understands how crucial entrepreneurship and small businesses are to the the economic future of the state, country and globe. This keen understanding is especially true in rural communities where the department is focusing on rebuilding and revitalizing small businesses in a “post-COVID-19” world.
Washington is offering a series of entrepreneurial and small business programs to help companies as they start and scale up their business.
One of the state’s most successful programs, ScaleUp, is an education and training partnership between the Washington State Department of Commerce and Thurston Economic Development Council. The program is based on the Thurston Center for Business Innovation’s ScaleUp program, which uses the proven Kauffman Foundation’s Fast Trac® Growth Venture coursework as its foundation.
The program was adjusted in 2020 to help meet the needs of small businesses grappling with the effects of the pandemic. Since the pandemic began, more than 350 small businesses have been helped through the ScaleUp: Rebuild Edition program. The eight-week course is available for business owners or presidents who have operated a business for at least two years and had pre-COVID annual gross revenue in excess of $100,000. The course, which ordinarily costs $1,599, is free to qualifying businesses, thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“Support for small businesses is a key building block for strengthening communities as we enter a post-pandemic world,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition offers participants mastery of essential skills that will help them grow and take advantage of opportunities as Washington’s economy fully reopens.”
Another key piece of the state’s efforts to help businesses navigate the continued effects of the pandemic, is the Entrepreneur Academy and its Restart Academy. The courses offered through the Entrepreneur Academy are free to Washington residents and offers guidance to business owners as they navigate the process of opening, re-opening and scaling their businesses.
The Restart Academy was created in response to the 2020 crisis and is intended to help rebuild communities across the state through encouraging successful entrepreneurship. The Restart Academy is a companion resource to the Entrepreneur Academy and the Startup Playbook, which provides resources and information for growing companies. The academy programs provide a variety of courses focused on everything from startup to exit strategies and are taught by instructors who understand the nature of entrepreneurship and can provide real-world guidance.