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CentreWorks hosting second session on entrepreneurship

A previous version of this story said spots for this course are full, but they are not. If interested, apply at centreworks.org. On the home page, click on the “register” button under the information about the LIFTOFF course. 

CentreWorks is launching its second LIFTOFF series, which is for people wanting to learn more about entrepreneurship and what it entails, on March 4.

Spots are limited for the course, but CentreWorks is currently taking applications at centreworks.org. The session will be virtual due to COVID-19.

Andrea and Anthony Margida, executive directors of CentreWorks, said the program is not only for people thinking of becoming entrepreneurs but also anyone from Boyle County or one of the other six counties served interested in learning what it takes to start a business or nonprofit organization. It’s a 10-week program with hour-long meetings once a week. A main focus of the program is having multiple conversations with the community the business-hopeful wishes to serve, Andrea said.

“That in itself is a skill — to learn how to figure out what someone’s needs are, what is missing, where are the gaps,” Andrea said. “So we actually work a lot on that. We work a lot on empathy, and we work on how to be certain that you’re hearing what someone is saying with their words, that you’re hearing what they’re not saying, because that can be very telling, and also that you’re able to take all of that information and work through it and figure out what’s most important to the individual or the group you’re intending to serve.”

The program also gives those who wish to establish startups a chance to network among each other, not just in their communities.

“That’s another bonus is you’re connecting with people throughout this region, so you really build a network through the program, through LIFTOFF,” Andrea said. “And you need that — you know, entrepreneurs need that. They need other people who are working to start something, even if it’s in a totally different field or area. It really helps to be able to connect to someone else who’s going through the process.”

Participants will also be paired up with Centre students, who will learn alongside participants, help them when needed and, by pairing with students with a different set of interests and skills, provide them with a way of thinking and approach separate from their own.

During this session, people will learn a “human-centered approach to innovation,” Anthony said. Participants will develop a value proposition, which focuses on the product or service they’re offering, and the program will emphasize that entrepreneurs are not born but made, through certain habits like empathy, listening to understand and learning from failure, as well as practical knowledge. Participants will learn from attorneys and accountants to learn the financial and legal ins and outs of starting a business, and they will also learn basics of digital marketing and other skills.

The first LIFTOFF session took place in the fall of 2020 and was eight weeks long, with only one student involved. Anthony said he and Andrea were very pleased with the 14 participants who graduated from the program.

“We were very pleased with the first round,” Anthony said. “The community we built is a really strong community of 14 entrepreneurs, all women, and some of them are headed toward some exciting things.”

One of these graduates is Kate Snyder, associate director of the Art Center of the Bluegrass, who is working on a startup children’s bookstore with an artist studio.

Anthony said the session is open to many different business ideas from various fields, from agriculture to art to IT, and he said the program isn’t just for entrepreneurs — the skills learned through the session can be applied to various challenges.

“We’d like to see most people in Danville go through this course one time or another — we look at it as lifting up the entire community and developing a culture of innovation and creating new opportunities,” he said.

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