The Rotary Club of Temple South, the Rotary Club of Temple and Temple College are cultivating local entrepreneurs with a new program called Launch Temple – a collaborative effort that provides training, mentorship, networking and funding to current and prospective small-business owners.
The 10-week program, which was entirely free, helped these budding entrepreneurs develop complete business plans through nine different training sessions held at Temple College.
“This was something extremely special for us,” Temple College President Christy Ponce said during a ceremony at the Temple College Pavilion on Tuesday. “It’s a really great partnership among a lot of friends and colleagues to do something special in our community.”
Rod Henry, president and CEO of the Temple Chamber of Commerce and president of the Temple Rotary Club, agreed.
“I’m quite impressed with what’s going on and it’s been interesting getting to know the 13 entrepreneurs,” he told the Telegram. “Some of them already have a business up and running… so this just helps them strengthen their knowledge. But all of these individuals have either worked to improve upon an existing business plan or to build their first business plan. ”
Marcos Gomez, who is employed as a cardiographic technician at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple, was among the 13 individuals to graduate from the program’s first cohort. He joined the Launch Temple program to gain valuable resources and to network with other entrepreneurs and community leaders.
“My company is Infinite Entertainment. We are a party rental service providing inflatable bounce houses, water slides and various party equipment, ”he said. “Infinite Entertainment has been open for a year and has been able to give back to the community by supporting local organizations such as Hands and Feet Ministries, AWARE Central Texas and Temple ISD. It is my goal to continue to grow my business so that I can have a bigger impact and help our local community. ”
Casi Coates, who has been the outreach coordinator for the Temple Public Library for the past five years, joined Launch Temple with a similar motive.
“I always wanted to open a speakeasy-style venue,” she said. “I think it’s important to have a place to go where you can have a drink with friends, and have a real conversation. I joined this class because I wanted to start taking the right steps toward my goals and learning everything I can from people who have been there. ”
Gomez, Coates and the 11 other Launch Participants will work with local mentors – who include Dave Hedge, Temple Daily Telegram general manager – over the next six months.
“We were really unsure of what this cohort of Launch Temple would look like and how it would all sort of pan out, and we just couldn’t be happier with the results,” Nancy Glover, Temple City’s director of housing and community development, told participants. “In the coming weeks and months we will be reaching out to you individually to get some feedback and to see what we can do to improve moving forward… so you’re not done yet. You have a little bit more to go, but this is the fun part where you get to meet your mentors, build those relationships and really start to launch your business here in Temple. ”