The Nia Center, a workforce and entrepreneurial development center in West Louisville, will be adding new training programs, a new loan program and a smaller version of the popular Sweet Peaches cafe.
In late 2016, Louisville Metro Community Services’ Financial Empowerment and economic Development division, or FEeD, which includes the city’s microbusiness program, relocated to the Nia Center at 2900 W. Broadway. It joined the Business Clinic, which is the Small Business Development office. This brought together resources for small businesses to make the Nia Center a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and small business developers.
Louisville Metro Community Services is partnered with KentuckianaWorks and Louisville Forward in expanding these services.
Mayor Greg Fischer said that Louisville is undergoing “a renaissance period” and that 60,000 new jobs and 2,600 new businesses had been created in the past six years.
“It’s important that prosperity reaches every single neighborhood,” Fischer said. He sees the Nia Center as a center for “economic empowerment” for the whole city, but especially West Louisville.
Consolidating all these workforce and small business services helps new or aspirational business owners get all their answers in one building. “If you can’t find it at the Nia Center, I don’t know what it would be,” he said.
In a news release, Eric Friedlander, director of Louisville Metro Community Services, said: “Our Community Services team members are honored to bring our Financial Empowerment and economic Development services into an existing focal point in West Louisville. We look forward to being a part of the interactive environment at the Nia Center that builds on the strengths of our community’s residents.”
The Center also offers GED and English as Second Language classes, housing education and job search services.
Pam Haines, owner of Sweet Peaches, located at 1800 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., will open a smaller version of the cafe this summer. The cafe will offer coffee, tea, sandwiches, salads and a variety of pastries.
Currently, the Nia Center offers the following services for small business owners and entrepreneurs (provided by Louisville Forward):
- The Metropolitan Business Development Corporation, commonly known as METCO, administers small business loans, which include facade, accessibility and gap financing loans. Since the merger, more than 150 West Louisville businesses have received loans through this program, leveraging more than $27 million in private investment.
- The Louisville Metro Microbusiness Loan Program supports businesses that employ five or fewer people, including the owner, and offers loans ranging from $500 to $15,000.
- The Business Accelerator Loan, a new loan with special criteria is now available to entrepreneurs and small business owners who locate a business in one of the nine neighborhoods of West Louisville.
Business development assistance
- Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program empowers makers to find pathways to entrepreneurship through an online marketplace by teaching students about entrepreneurship 101, budgeting, pricing and marketing. Applications are now being accepted for the March session.
- Exploring Entrepreneurship is a free one-hour introductory workshop for self-employment information and small business resources held the second Tuesday of each month.
- Power-Up Business Course is a free seven-week course designed to provide practical business planning information to participants and enable them to develop their business idea.
- A three-part “Government Contracting 101” lunch and learn series coordinated with the U.S. Small Business Association, starts in late March.
Workforce development programs
- The Kentucky Career Center inside Nia offers a full range of job and career services including job-coaching, résumé-building, training and job placement. The facility, which placed nearly 50 people in jobs during the last six months of 2016, received extensive renovations and improvements in 2016.
- Kentuckiana Builds training is a seven-week class to prepare people for jobs being created by Louisville’s current building boom with projects like the Kentucky International Convention Center expansion and the new Omni Louisville Hotel.
- The Manufacturing Training and Employment Connection and the Certified Production Technician are two- and four-week trainings that give graduates skills and certifications valued by local companies that are hiring, including GE Appliances, Dakkota Integrated Systems, Algood Food Company and many others.