EA sorts: Chapter aims to bring local businesses together

When it comes to starting or running a business, problem-solving and building strategies under pressure is a typical routine.

This can drive some entrepreneurs to seek guidance. Otherwise, goals may take longer to achieve since they juggle problem by themselves.

But a program such as Entrepreneurs Assembly helps defy those challenges with education and empowerment — for business owners, by business owners.

EA is bringing that relief to local entrepreneurs at the capital. It launched a chapter Wednesday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Adams Hub on Proctor Street.

“As entrepreneurs, we have all been there with certain stresses,” said EA founder and director Matt Westfield. “Sometimes, we end up feeling alienated. If we can be true, respectful and listen to each other in these meetings, we create a synergy.”

Prior to the meeting, 11 mentors convened to review the mission and format of EA. Mayor Bob Crowell attended the meeting to show his support. “This is all part of creating a cultural part in local entrepreneurship,” he said. “With the right type of thinking, everyone can be an entrepreneur. Exchanging experiences can set this chapter off of the ground. It defines our future.”

Chapters of the award-winning organization also are located in Incline Village, North and South Lake Tahoe, and Reno. It was founded in 2010 to help aid in Nevada’s economic recovery and was honored with the Entrepreneurial Spirit award for Nevada by the Small Business Administration in 2014. The program also expanded to The Young African Leaders Initiative Network in July.

Here’s how it works: entrepreneurs meet once a month for roundtables, networking, workshops and lectures with volunteer mentors, to help business and start-up owners succeed in their goals. During round table sessions, members identify their key priorities and action items, then leave the meeting with their marching orders for the next month.

EA meetings are popular, said Executive Director John Moran, who runs Carson City and Reno’s chapters. About 10 to 15 entrepreneurs attend the monthly meetings and the numbers continue to increase by word-of-mouth from members.

Although there’s been success with attendance in other chapters, Moran hopes participation numbers rise in Carson City over the next few months. “It’s total uncertainty of how this program will do in Carson City,” he said. “But we had those uncertainties before with other chapters. It’s about promoting it to our participants so they can spread the word.”

Aside from Mayor Crowell’s visit, EA at the Capital’s first meeting not only consisted of local business owners, but curious minds as well.

Ben Summers, a computer science student attending the University of California, Santa Cruz, is working in Carson City for the summer.

“I didn’t know I was going to be here,” he said. “I was interested and it’s exciting to see where this goes.”

Ricky Genz, an aspiring entrepreneur in technology, regularly attends EA meetings in Reno.

“I wanted to see what Carson City’s new chapter was like,” he said. “It’s a way to expand on ideas.”

What attracts participants to EA is the program doesn’t charge to join a chapter; it’s free to attend and learn from volunteers mentors. Mentors have a background in variety of education such as finance, marketing and information technology.

Carson McFadden, realtor and property manager of RCM Realty Group, said she appreciates the mentors donating their time to educate. “Most of the time you have to pay to get this,” she said. “For mentors to take the time out of their day to help us is a great way to give back to the community.”

McFadden also plans to apply skills from the workshop to her business.

“There’s a ton out there for me to learn and grow,” she said. “It’s going to keep you accountable. Three people reached out to me afterward for business advice. It’s about helping one another.”

Casey Ressler regularly attends EA meetings in South Lake Tahoe. He said the regional chapters are long overdue and many can benefit learning from those who are starting a business, and to those who are on their fifth. “Frank, honest and constructive discussions are helping to accelerate people to their goals more clearly than any other method,” he said. “I’ve attended multiple chapter meetings and can’t say enough good about the mission, vision and networking they bring to foster entrepreneurship.”

As EA begins its launch in Carson City, organizers are looking for volunteer mentors to help expand perspectives of the chapter.

It doesn’t matter if a business is big or small, a start-up or a dream waiting to come true; everyone is invited.


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