Timothy Salvador, a Bakersfield College business administration major and former foster youth, knew he wanted to start his own business aimed at keeping foster and juvenile delinquents in school and thinking about their futures.
"I was a foster kid at 15, and I worked as a police officer for the city of Shafter for eight years," Salvador said. "During my time, I was the police activities coordinator, so I want to maintain working with the youth and show them different avenues and paths they can take, including entrepreneurship."
He started his business in May and accessed LegalZoom.com to receive the proper legal documents, but the resources and guidance he needed to truly make his dream into a reality were missing.
It wasn't until he enrolled at BC and learned of the new Launchpad center that he saw how he could take his business to the next step.
"I'm able to talk to my professors about my plans, not in a way like, 'Can you help on this plan,' but getting the resources I need," he said. "I’m looking forward to creating the business plan, the bylaws, in terms of what the resources from (the center) can help."
On Sept. 24 BC held the grand opening of Launchpad, a new entrepreneurship center developed to provide resources and support for local entrepreneurs to help increase the number of new businesses in the community and to assist small businesses grow.
Launchpad is located in Room 106 of the Weill Institute at 2100 Chester Ave. and is open to BC, Cal State Bakersfield and Kern High School District students and all community members.
"Bakersfield has a lot of skills and what we need to do is harness those skills and provide support," said BC President Sonya Christian.
Christian explained if a seamstress located in Delano was interested in starting her own business but wasn't sure how, she could walk into Launchpad and get the help she needs.
Resources available at the center include assessments which can help an individual determine their personal and professional readiness to start a business; seminars, workshops and classes; referrals to partners with specialized expertise to assist the entrepreneur; and a meeting space with computers and printers to facilitate collaboration.
The idea for Launchpad began after BC began working with the Kern Initiative for Talent and Entrepreneurship. The group, which provides resources and structure for those looking to start a business, met with the college about a year ago to see how to help local entrepreneurs.
"Launchpad is one of the first visible outcomes from bringing people together," KITE founder JP Lake said. He added Launchpad is all about creating, cultivating and redeeming businesses throughout the community.
"Launchpad is the place where entrepreneurs' dreams will be ignited," he said.
There is a need for this type of support in Kern County, explained Dave Teasdale, director of economic and workforce development for the Kern Community College District. The county is in the bottom-5 percentile in the country in terms of young companies, or ones that are less than 5-years-old, which, he says, "we need to change."
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