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The Chamber of Greater Easthampton Accepting Applications for Fall Entrepreneurial Training Program

EASTHAMPTON, Mass., June 7, 2024 – The Chamber of Greater Easthampton (Chamber) has begun accepting applications for its fall 2024 CO-STARTERS at WorkHub on Union entrepreneurial training program, made possible by a $50,000 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant as part of the continued economic development partnership between The Chamber and the City of Easthampton.

CO.STARTERS is a 10-week cohort-based program that equips entrepreneurs of all kinds with the  insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. “Thank you to the Chamber of Greater Easthampton for bringing CO.STARTERS to the area,” said Malinda Lesko, co-owner of Alchemy Fiber Mill and a graduate of the spring 2024 cohort. “The CO.STARTERS experience definitely helped drive my ideas forward. Whether I needed support, brainstorming, refining, feedback, implementation plans, the list goes on... I could count on my mentors/group leaders and fellow cohort. Hearing from local business owners each week provided practical examples plus the interactive opportunities to ask questions and start building our own networks,” she said.

According to Kauffman Foundation research, companies less than one year old create an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades. The program will also provide a natural pathway for entrepreneurs to grow their business at the WorkHub on Union co-working space set to open this summer. "We are thrilled to continue to bring this entrepreneurial training program to our community as part of our continuing effort to foster and nurture local talent, ignite innovation within our entrepreneurial community, and drive the economic prosperity of our City,” said Chamber Executive Director Moe Belliveau.  “This is absolutely the community I have been looking for,” added Lesko.

Drawing from the experience of successful entrepreneurs and startup veterans from around the globe, CO.STARTERS at WorkHub on Union walks creative small business owners through lean, effective  business modeling methods in a simple and intuitive way, while connecting them to a supportive  community of peers and mentors. Participants are encouraged to build and test small models first, receive real-time customer feedback, update their models to meet customer needs and avoid creating businesses based on incorrect assumptions, fueling a greater likelihood of success. 

Once again facilitated by local business owner Cynthia West of Sonnet & Sparrow and The Flying Squirrel, entrepreneurs will be led through a comprehensive curriculum covering business fundamentals within the context of the local community and marketplace. “The combination of Cynthia’s experience as a mission-based business owner, her entrepreneurial background as a writer and award-winning magazine publisher and her contacts within the local consumer and business communities makes her a perfect choice to lead the program again and the participants will certainly benefit from this incredible depth of knowledge and insight,” said Belliveau.

Guided by West, participants will learn how to identify key assumptions about why and how their businesses will work in real-world scenarios. This approach enables participants to rapidly uncover flaws in their concepts and quickly adjust their business and confidently and successfully bring their visions to life. Upon completion, WorkHub on Union will provide these entrepreneurs with an affordable, flexible, low risk professional workspace in the heart of Easthampton's business, service and retail districts as well as direct access to the Chamber and all the expertise it provides such as relationship-building, professional development, leadership education and entrepreneurial support, education and technical assistance.
 
"A robust local economy doesn't simply emerge,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “It requires deliberate construction and ongoing maintenance. The City's collaboration with the Chamber is a testament to our commitment to bolstering the local economy. We recognize the abundance of creativity and innovation within Easthampton, and this program serves as a catalyst, broadening the horizons for budding business concepts. Through hands-on support, we empower creators, makers, and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful ventures.”
 
Aspiring entrepreneurs exploring a new idea, those close to starting up and those in the early stages of a business that may need assistance to get to the next level are encouraged to consider the program.  Applications for CO.STARTERS at WorkHub on Union will be accepted on a rolling basis through August 27, 2024, with the program running Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. beginning September 10, 2024. The cost of the 10-week program is $3,500 but, thanks to the ARPA grant, participants will only pay $150. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the Chamber Web site at www.easthamptonchamber.org for more information and to apply. 

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About the Chamber
The Chamber of Greater Easthampton is a dynamic organization dedicated to promoting local  businesses, fostering economic growth, and building a strong sense of community in Easthampton, MA.  Through collaborative initiatives, innovative programs, and advocacy efforts, the Chamber strives to create an environment where businesses and residents can thrive. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org.
 
About CO.STARTERS
Building on initial grassroots efforts with small business starters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the CO.STARTERS network now has an international reach with thousands participating in its programs  annually. Since 2008, CO.STARTERS has equipped more than 690 local leaders across 200+  communities, helping more than 12,000 starters move forward with their ventures. For more information. Visit www.costarters.co.

About WorkHub on Union
WorkHub on Union is an integral part of the economic development foundations that The Chamber has partnered on with the City, such as Blueprint Easthampton, The City of Easthampton, as well as the City Planner through the LRRP Technical Assistance Grant. It will provide co-working space and educational hub to help entrepreneurs be as successful as possible to create a vibrant, lively, healthy local economy and regional eco-system.