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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winner: North Dakota

Best Practices: MHA Entrepreneur Training Program

Training Program Teaches Low-Income Participants How to Start Their Own Businesses

Minot, North Dakota. Many of the low-income residents of the Minot area of North Dakota are faced by significant barriers to employment, including long-term unemployment, chronic underemployment and lack of adequate child care. New approaches to generating employment and alleviating poverty were needed. Hoping for a new answer to income generation problems, The Minot Housing Authority (MHA) established a program offering an alternative for the hard-to-employ people in Minot: to operate a business of their own. The Minot Housing Authority’s Minot Entrepreneur Training Program promotes self-employment as a viable and legitimate way for

Connie Philipango/Harriet Epstein receiving Best of the Best award
Connie Philipango/Harriet Epstein receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

participants to become self-sufficient. The program provides an opportunity for individuals to receive the professional training, guidance and technical assistance to be successful in their own businesses.

The Entrepreneur Training Program has graduated more than 300 participants since its inception in 1994. More than 75 of the graduates have started or expanded their own businesses.

The program addresses three specific areas:

  1. Empowerment training to encourage welfare recipients to improve their living situation;
  2. Entrepreneurial education to help improve long-term prospects for new small businesses; and
  3. Opportunities for disadvantaged individuals to become self-sufficient.

Training includes topics such as writing a business plan and the technical aspects of developing a small business. Free six-hour classes are offered daily. At each workshop, community business leaders, educators and providers of economic development services affiliated with the program volunteer to talk on such subjects as networking, advertising, marketing and record-keeping. Successful entrepreneurs provide start-up tips and give motivational presentations on empowerment, business etiquette and dressing for success. One-on-one counseling is available from the program coordinator, and additional counseling is available free of charge from Small Business Development, the Souris Basin Planning Council and the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

The program enhances the ability of participants to see themselves as entrepreneurs. The support of the program director encourages low-income individuals to investigate new and possibly more effective avenues toward self-sufficiency. To help address the comprehensive needs of participants, the program also addresses obstacles such as child care, transportation, credit history, budgeting, housing needs, additional education and job training. In addition, the structure of the program was created deliberately to be compatible with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) requirements.

The program has created a support system that features a small-loan pool for start-up businesses, a mentoring program and job placement services for those program participants that are not ready to start a business.

Contact: Connie Philipenko, Phone: (701) 852-0485
Tracking Number: 760
Winning Category: Geographic


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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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