Chamber works with city to promote entrepreneurship growth

January 30, 2019

Sandie Fischer is a believer that it takes a variety of business enterprises to help a city’s economy flourish.

Corporately owned and big-box retail businesses have a place in rural communities like Columbus, but these places are also reliant on small, locally owned businesses by people with a real sense of entrepreneurial spirit.

“If it wasn’t for those entrepreneurs doing the things that they are doing, and that money going into the city coffers, when it comes to our library, our fire department, our police department – all those services that we have to offer, entrepreneurs are helping to fill those coffers with money so that Columbus can keep staying the best city in the community when it comes to our state,” said Fischer, who handles items for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce relating to entrepreneurship, membership and event planning.

Recently, the Chamber has continued working with the City of Columbus to track down local, people who want to learn to maximize their business knowledge and abilities. These individuals have had the chance to attend – so far – three educational sessions hosted at the Ramada Hotel & River’s Edge Convention Center by the Nebraska-based company ECONIC.

These free-of-charge sessions, with six total being provided, have received about 15 people per session so far, Fischer said. The ECONIC seminars have been made possible through a partnership with City of Columbus officials, who approved up to $20,000 of LB840 Local Economic Development Funds to finance the undertaking.

“I think it’s important to realize that small businesses make up a huge portion of what makes up Columbus,” Mayor Jim Bulkley said. “So anytime we can funnel that excitement and generate interest in that area is great. For us to be able to help the Chamber with any of this stuff is just a positive move.”

Fischer took a moment to explain a little bit about the focus of the ECONIC sessions.

“They are doing these entrepreneur workshops that have been taking place once a month – we just had one on Saturday,” she said of ECONIC. “And it’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs to become better at what they are doing … We have had people (attend) just thinking about starting a business, and we’ve had some people who already have businesses and are looking at saying, ‘Am I doing the best I possibly can with my business?’”

Those in attendance have the opportunity to build relationships and network with other like-minded individuals and also receive access to business mentors to help them with certain aspects of building, developing and growing their ventures.

“So say if you’re working in a business, maybe you’re working with food, they (ECONIC) will come up with mentors who can then help you with your business,” she said. “So if you had a question down the road once this is all said and done, they can say, ‘Hey, did you think about calling so and so?’”

In addition to the opportunities provided through the ECONIC program, community members interested in entrepreneurship and business also have the opportunity to attend Entrepreneurship Essentials Workshop programs geared toward those who are serious about pursuing business success.

Sessions run from 5:30-9 p.m. beginning Thursday, and continue on Feb. 7, Feb. 14 and Feb. 21. Each session covers new and pertinent information regarding running a successful business. The cost is $225 per business (two people) and includes the cost of 14 hours of instruction, one textbook and two online personality assessments, according to released information highlighting the course. For more information about session location and details, those interested are encouraged to contact Susan Schoenhofer at 402-562-1486 or email her at susanschoenhofer@cccneb.edu.

Fischer said the more opportunities current and future entrepreneurs have to build their skills and network, the better. She also noted the chamber’s relationship with the city continues paying dividends.

“It’s very important, that relationship that we have with the city,” she said. “Because they see the big picture themselves. They know that if they can be successful with the entrepreneurship that it helps them be successful, to be able to do the projects that they need to do within the city.”

For more information about attending the next ECONIC session, tentatively scheduled for March, those interested are encouraged to contact Fischer at 402-564-2769.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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