Fuerza Local Business Accelerator program launches in Southern Arizona

By Inside Tucson Business

Twelve business owners were recently recognized at the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator graduation as the Tucson program’s first graduating class. The ceremony was held Saturday, June 30 at the YWCA.

The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator, a program of Local First Arizona Foundation, is a six-month training program offered at no cost to underserved Hispanic business owners. During the program, entrepreneurs learn the fundamentals to launch or develop their business, creating a firm foundation for their goals.

Lessons on accounting, social media, marketing and many others are taught completely in Spanish by industry professionals and experts, giving students the opportunity to learn from some of the best in Arizona. “Fuerza Local” is a Spanish phrase that translates to “local strength,” referencing the idea that this program is meant to build community wealth and prosperity from the ground up.

The program has grown since its launch in 2014, and is now graduating students in five communities across the state, now including Tucson. More than 260 business owners have already completed the program since its launch in 2014, and have generated more than $8.1 million in gross sales and borrowed more than $1.1 million.

Through a grant to YWCA of Southern Arizona by the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Local First Arizona Foundation has partnered with the YWCA to launch Fuerza Local in South Tucson. The YWCA team of established Tucson leaders in entrepreneurship through the Microbusiness Advancement Center on their South Tucson campus has created an entrepreneurial and educational hub that supports people in our community in significant ways, primarily those who are working in art, culture, food, emerging tech and environmental sustainability. Current programs are offered in Spanish and English, and include the Women’s Business Center. Other partners in the program include LFA member Vib’n, an entrepreneurial support business. An expansion to the Fuerza Local program is planned to support more businesses starting in August.

Local First Arizona Foundation launched the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator in 2013 as a direct response to the influx of predatory lenders targetting low-income Latinos who often lack financial literacy and access to resources that help build thriving businesses. Fuerza Local features amazing graduates from around Arizona. These small businesses have created new jobs, and add to the economic and cultural landscape of our communities for a strong local economy.

Investing in underserved communities through entrepreneurship is a successful strategy that has seen significant job creation and business expansion, along with a reduction in reliance on social services. Creating opportunities for small business development in low-income communities helps build an Arizona we are proud to call home.

Applications for the second cohort of the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator are now open, and can be found online at localfirstazfoundation.org/fuerza-accelerator-tucson-apply. The application will close on August 17, 2018.

Participants of the first southern Arizona Fuerza Local cohort include La Palma, Arizona Hispanic Services LLC, Dolce Pastello, Benny’s Restaurant, Carnitas La Yoca, Empowering Financial Group, Luis Padilla Design, Express Beauty Salon, Bob Does I.T., Super Carniceria del Rey, Rohi Nails & Spa and Patricia Padilla Photography.

Local First Arizona Foundation is the 501c3 nonprofit sister organization to Local First Arizona, and is an award-winning organization focused on community and economic development throughout the state in order to build self-sufficient, healthy and prosperous communities. LFAF is creating a movement that has proven results across a wide variety of measurables including youth retention, job creation, and economic gains.

This article provided by NewsEdge.