The National Association of Women Business Owners reports that “more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017.” But what about women living and working in rural or remote communities? Thanks to the Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business & Innovation, business training and coaching opportunities can come to them.

Thurston EDC WCWB lacey offices
Courses and assistance can be found at the EDC’s Lacey offices or can come to you, thanks to their new rural services program. Photo courtesy: Thurston Economic Development Council

The EDC’s Washington Center for Women in Business (WCWB) strives “to ‘level the playing field’ for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.” Though a statewide program, the EDC’s Lacey offices provide workshops and training, in English and Spanish, with a goal towards greater growth and profits, explains Traci Hansen, WCWB Program Manager.

Their newly-offered rural services are a partnership between the EDC, WCWB, U.S. Small Business Administration, and United Way of Thurston County’s Women United. Though a relatively new program, the first two workshops were held in September 2018 in Tenino and Yelm to grateful attendees.

Hansen knows that “many women have full- or part-time jobs at the same time they’re trying to launch or grow their own business.” With this in mind, transportation, cost and scheduling are complicated when juggled with a career and/or family. WCWB’s rural services staff brings the one-on-one business coaching and resources to them.

Thurston EDC WCWB-classes and coaching
The EDC’s Washington Center for Women in Business now offers classes for rural business owners. Photo courtesy: Thurston Economic Development Council

The overall goal is simple, how can we create jobs and prosperity in and around rural communities? Typically WCWB business coaching is free for the first appointment and $25 after that and workshop prices vary. But thanks to Women United these services are free in rural Thurston County and scholarships are always available to women in Thurston county to take advantage at our Lacey location and everyone is welcome. Does your husband, brother, father, or friend work with you? Don’t worry, laughs Hansen, “About 20 percent of our clients are male; we’ll help them both.”

Rural business coaching and training is offered by Cheryl Selby, an experienced Olympia-based small business owner and entrepreneur. Coaching is one-on-one, confidential, and customized to fit individual needs. To learn more, contact Selby at 360-464-6067 or cselby@thurstonedc.com.

Thurston EDC WCWB helping women
These classes help women-owned businesses grow and thrive throughout the state. Photo courtesy: Thurston Economic Development Council


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