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City of Phoenix Supports Entrepreneurship Program at the Maricopa County Community College District

City of Phoenix leaders - (from left to right) - Christine Mackay, Mayor Kate Gallego, Laura Pastor 2022 Recipients - (from left to right) - Betzy Reyes and Breanna Griffin-Lewis Image of David Olivio with bounce house NACCE Logo and Image of City of Phoenix Skyline

The City of Phoenix recently granted $20,000 to support an entrepreneurism program at the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), in partnership with the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation (MCCF), and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund (EEVF).

MCCCD students aiming to start a business in the City of Phoenix can submit proposals as part of the annual NACCE-EEVF Program – and receive $2,500 seed funding to help start or expand their business.  Phoenix City Councilwoman Laura Pastor and Community and Economic Development Director Christine Mackay spearheaded the support.

“This partnership with MCCCD sparks the next stage of entrepreneurial innovations, part of the smart policies and investments that have fueled the City’s resilience,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “By creating new opportunities for startups and micro businesses, we empower an ecosystem vital to the future health of our city and for the workers and families proud to call Phoenix home.”

In Phoenix, small businesses are big business with more than 95 percent of Phoenix companies having fewer than 100 employees. “The city of Phoenix is nationally-known for its startup ecosystem and innovation. We’ve been recognized by the Kauffman Foundation as one of the best cities for entrepreneurs. Our investment to help citizens get started in their own companies is just one more asset we bring to the entrepreneurial community,” said Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor.

“Phoenix is a city of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Christine Mackay, director, Phoenix Community and Economic Development. “Our investment in future entrepreneurs is an extension of the vast array of services and support Phoenix delivers to its businesses. We pride ourselves on an ecosystem of new and legacy companies who work together to grow strong opportunities for business success and to create jobs for our growing, experienced workforce.”

The NACCE-EEVF Program is in its second year as part of MCCCD’s effort to increase entrepreneurism and workforce development in Maricopa County.  NACCE-EEVF Program director Bruce McHenry said “The funds from the City of Phoenix and NACCE will increase the support and capital assistance MCCCD can provide to help student-entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.”

The City of Phoenix support, along with a $20,000 grant from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, will help ignite young entrepreneurs across Phoenix and Maricopa County.  NACCE provided a matching grant of $20,000 based on the MCCCD EEVF colleges raising more than $30,000 to-date.

Student Entrepreneurs

While taking classes in 2020, David Olivo reached out to PC faculty member Dawson Dopp for help, and they started talking about the new business David started renting bounce houses. Professor Dopp told David about the NACCE-EEVF Program, which provides seed money and mentorship to local entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business.

David’s inspiration to become an entrepreneur began when he was just 11 years old, while helping his mom rent out tables and chairs to neighbors for family parties. David smiles as he recalls that the best part of helping his mom was collecting the money at the end of the day. The money was an important part of their family finances, but it also played a decisive role in David’s interest in starting his own business.

David was skeptical, but he applied, and was selected as PC’s first recipient of the NACCE-EEVF Program – receiving $2,500 in financial assistance to help jumpstart his bounce house and party rentals business.  David was also matched with a local business mentor, through the AZ Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The funding allowed David to expand his business, and now he has four bounce houses.

When asked what advice he would give others thinking about starting their own business, he says, “Just jump in, and be okay getting outside your comfort zone.” He also says he never thought college would lead to this kind of help with his business, but he’s thankful it did.

McHenry, Dopp, PC business faculty Sherlyn Celaya, and other faculty from across MCCCD, work together to host the annual competition. “The NACCE- EEVF Program is an effective way for entrepreneurial students, such as David, to demonstrate a positive economic effect in our community, while learning how to start or scale their business,” said Dopp.

The second cohort of student-entrepreneurs were selected to receive $2,500 each for the launch and expansion of some interesting and exciting small businesses.  In addition to start-up capital, student-entrepreneurs receive ongoing mentoring and advising from the Maricopa Small Business Development Center, and campus faculty and staff.

The eight student-entrepreneurs awarded capital funds are:

  • Breanna Griffin-Lewis (Phoenix College) opening Luna Luxe an online business providing statement jewelry and accessories at affordable prices with luxurious feel, delivered right to your door.
  • Tawanda Bates (South Mountain Community College) is opening Gingia Company providing large 3-wick original designer candles and accessories.
  • Fannie Hershberger (Rio Salado College) running Citrine Accounting and Taxes, LLC offering tax preparation and filing, bookkeeping, Notary Public and other Business Services.
  • Betsy Reyes Hurtado (Phoenix College) running Reyes Rentals providing a luxurious vacation home in Puerto Penasco, Mexico at an affordable price. 
  • Salome Leia (Glendale Community College) is starting “Lela's Lounge”, a cafe, bar, and lounge with a safe, healthy environment or everyone to use.
  • Tara Lopez (Rio Salado College) opening Spoiled Dog Kare offering pet sitting, dog walking, and treating your furry babies like family,
  • Patrick McDougal (Glendale Community College) is growing a virtual reality community. "The Mortisian Syndicate" where people can role play, tell stories and enjoy benefits of a community of like-minded colleagues
  • Chari Scott (Glendale Community College) working on opening up a group home facility to aid in the treatment of individuals that live with severe mental illness by empowering individuals to build their strengths

Program supporters include The City of Phoenix, The Foundation for Economic Education, K16 solutions, Encanto Palmcroft Benefits, the Rotary Club of Downtown Tempe, as well as the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund.

Students at participating MCCCD schools seeking to start a business in the City of Phoenix may apply for the NACCE-EEVF Program, and the next application cycle is fall 2022.  Learn more about the NACCE-EEVF Program at phoenixcollege.edu/academics/departments/business.

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