Chattanooga's LAUNCH works to give everyone a chance to start a business
In 2011, Chattanooga based non-profit Launch started its journey in the Bethlehem center in Alton park. The founders wanted to help anyone with a idea for a small business get started.
We attended a recent graduation of the spring adult training class of LAUNCH.
We talked to several graduates with great stories. DeJuan Jordan is starting a career as a life coach. Cheri Hutchins has a food prep business, and Christopher Chaney wants to help care givers.
"My mom got really sick with Alzheimer's and dementia." Mr. Chaney said. "I retired to take care of her. She passed away, and so after she passed away I just kinda wanted to give up. (I) didn't have anything to do, but I guess I didn't know how to give up. That's something my mom didn't teach me."
Mr. Chaney is involved with several projects. He's an author, and he is starting a new business called Family Care Living.
"I can't bring my mom back, but I can do something for other caregivers." Mr. Chaney said.
Since the start of LAUNCH about 170 businesses have been started by LAUNCH graduates. Hal Bowling is the Executive director. He said he and his co-founder saw the entrepreneur culture growing in Chattanooga, and they wanted to find a way to get more people involved.
"A lot of our conversations turned to what was happening in our city, you know people who might or might not be part of this new future that Chattanooga had." Mr. Bowling said. "I think that for us it was important that we make sure that everyone was able to be able to be included in that. In a lot of ways we wanted something that was just focused on ordinary people, but provide support and training and encouragement and a lot of the resources that people don't always have."
Launch is involved in several different projects, but to take part in the adult classes the most important thing you need is a good idea. They're focused on small businesses. The classes meet once a week for ten weeks and there are two sessions each year. The cost for students for the whole course is $100.
The goal for the people at Launch is to help everyone have a real opportunity to chase their dreams.
"Taking on this work really meant esteeming and holding in high regard micro-businesses or businesses with five employees or less. We think those are really valuable." Mr.Bowling said. "From the beginning we really pushed hard to make sure those businesses get as much attention and focus and notoriety in some ways.
Hal Bowling says the ten week class is just the door opener. LAUNCH will provide support for students for years beyond that point as well.
The adult classes are just one thing LAUNCH does. There is also a program in seven local high schools, and they also help other cities start similar programs.
You can visit the LAUNCH website here.