Schedule of classes
Free courses for entrepreneurs and people in business are being offered in the next few months by:
Modesto Junior College
To sign up, call 575-6063 and ask about registering for a HUD class. Classes, which meet in Room E-11 at Creekside Middle School, 535 Peregrine Drive, are limited to 20 students each. Participants can sign up until the day of the event.
• Become a Master Networker: 6 to 9 p.m. April 17
• Social Media for Your Business: 6 to 9 p.m. May 2
• Workplace Safety: 6 to 9 p.m. May 9 and 6 to 8 p.m. May 15
• Branding for your Business: 6 to 9 p.m. May 22
• Leadership Academy: 8 a.m. to noon daily, July 15 to 19
Small Business Development Center classes
Call 386-1008 or log on to www.alliancesbdc.com to learn more or sign up.
• Business Startup: 6 to 8 p.m. April 16, Alliance SBDC Kirk Lindsey Center, 1020 10th St., Ste. 102, in Modesto and Turlock Chamber of Commerce, 115 S. Golden State Blvd., in Turlock
• QuickBooks for Beginners: 8 a.m. to noon April 13, Turlock Chamber of Commerce, 115 S. Golden State Blvd., in Turlock
Starting a business can be a difficult endeavor, and earning a business degree isn’t cheap, but two groups are trying to make the task a bit easier for West Side entrepreneurs.
Modesto Junior College and the Alliance Small Business Development Center are both offering free business courses in Patterson through separate publicly funded programs.
The SBDC has already offered classes in computer accounting and business startup skills at the Hammon Senior Center, while MJC is offering various free community courses for West Side residents at Creekside Middle School and at MJC’s West Campus in Modesto.
But despite promotional efforts, the college is having a hard time filling up the courses.
Nine people showed up to an MJC community course at Creekside Middle School on March 12, titled “Promote Your Business on a Shoestring Budget.”
Pat Brennan, a program specialist for community education at the college, hopes to have more participants at future workshops.
“It’s not as good as I thought it would be for free classes,” Brennan said. “It’s trickling in.”
MJC is offering courses focusing on workplace safety, leadership and marketing through social media, among other topics. Led by community education teachers, they would typically be offered in Modesto and cost $35 to $250, Brennan said.
Instead, they’re free.
All of the classes are subsidized by a $600,000 Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities grant that MJC received from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2010. Some of the money has been used for courses on environmentally sustainable manufacturing and a logistics course that is in development.
The aim of the grant is to stimulate economic development in Patterson, establish a career resource center at a future West Side educational complex and create an energy awareness campaign.
While some classes offered through the grant will meet in Modesto, all of them are intended to benefit the West Side of Stanislaus County, Uliana said.
MJC sent out information about the classes to nearly 700 addresses with business licenses in Patterson and Newman, but strikingly few people have responded, according to MJC community education staff members.
Fahimeh Teymourazof, one of those staff members, acknowledged that some of the classes will not start for another couple of months. But she also guessed that people might not believe the classes are truly free.
“People may think there’s a catch somewhere,” she said.
Despite a shortage of registrants for most classes, Teymourazof said an upcoming course on the QuickBooks accounting computer program is completely full and has a wait list, and a course on the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program is also full.
QuickBooks courses offered by the Alliance SBDC also have a wait list. Alliance SBDC director Kurt Clark said community interest in the courses built gradually.
The Small Business Development Center is run by the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, which seeks to attract businesses into Stanislaus County and to support and retain existing businesses.
Clark said about a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration covers about half the cost of the courses. The rest is funded by local banks, private donors and Stanislaus County and its cities.
This is the first year the SBDC has offered courses in Patterson, at the Hammon Senior Center. Past courses have taken place in Turlock and Modesto.
City officials, particularly Mayor Luis Molina and City Manager Rod Butler, have been supportive of the Alliance’s efforts in Patterson, Clark said.
Upcoming courses include a five-week business boot camp, mostly for aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses. If it fills up quickly, the SBDC may host a more intensive 10-week course, he said.
All of the planned classes in Patterson are full, but courses in Turlock and Modesto have openings. More Patterson offerings will be introduced during the summer and fall, Clark said.
“We’re committed to serving the West Side, both Patterson and Newman,” he said.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.