Students and community members looking to start their own businesses now have a new resource to help them achieve that goal.
This week, Bakersfield College opened a new business center, called Launchpad, in Room 106 at the Weill Institute downtown. The center includes free tools, resources and support services intended to help users prepare for and launch successful businesses.
The new center is open to high school and college students as well as community members from across Kern County.
“It’s about showing people how to navigate the legalities and finances of a business, how to develop a plan — the nuts and bolts of starting a small business,” said BC President Sonya Christian at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. “This collaboration is about finding so many solutions for our local problems and encouraging economic growth.”
Bakersfield College has partnered with several organizations for Launchpad, including the Kern Initiative for Talent and Entrepreneurship and the Kern Economic Development Corporation. BC and its partners began working toward opening the center last fall.
“Launchpad is one of the first visible outcomes from bringing people together,” said JP Lake, founder of KITE, a new organization focused on helping people in the community start businesses. “Creating a new business, creating something new that didn’t exist before — that’s the essence of entrepreneurship. Launchpad is where entrepreneurs’ ideas will be ignited.”
Some of the resources the new center provides include readiness assessments, classes and workshops, guest speakers, meeting space and computers for use.
Launchpad was paid for through $120,000 in state funding intended for use in bulking up the local workforce, according to the Kern Community College District.
Christian said she hopes the new center will be a natural transition into entrepreneurship for BC students who have had some thoughts about starting a business but haven’t taken action to pursue it.
“What we’re trying to do is if someone’s in our baking program, for example, and they’re a great chef and baker, why not get this individual to think about starting their own small business?” she said.
Christian said the ultimate goal is to have several centers in Kern County in the coming years.
The center is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Fridays. It is free for anyone to use. For more information, call 661-395-4104.