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Entrepreneurship program helps new Independence business owners - KOAM TV 7

Entrepreneurship program helps new Independence business owners

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A government grant gives first time business owners the chance to open up shop while helping the community.

Independence, Kansas received a grant for $435,000 allowing the revitalization of a few buildings downtown.  This then sparked the idea to use mall-like set-ups within the buildings, so more businesses could operate.

The buildings are partnered with Independence Community College's Entrepreneurship Program, allowing many first time business owners the chance to live their dream.

Terry Trout never dreamed of owning a coffee shop but it's something he would never go back on.

"I was unemployed at the time from the cabinet industry and looking for something to do there and this opportunity came along and we jumped on it and it's been successful ever since," says Trout, the owner of Ane Mae's Coffee & Sandwich Shop."

Trout heard about an entrepreneurship program Independence Community College was working on and decided to get involved.

"It's been great for me, gives me someone to lean on for help as a small business owner," says Trout.  "I've never owned my own business before and it's nice to have that support and the backing of that program."

The program has helped Trout as well as many businesses within the International Mall.

Robert Eaton had been working on computers at home until he found out about the program.

"It was just inconvenient and then I got a hold of Jim (Correll) and the entrepreneurship program and then found out that this place was open and it all worked out real good."

The program also helped Leondas Devolt with her dream of owning a pampering spa for girls become a reality.

"Well I love it, they're all very supportive any question that you would have to ask about business from the beginning to the end from something really small to something really big, you can ask," says Devolt, the owner of Princess Lair.

Correll is the executive director of the entrepreneurship program at ICC and he says he hopes more and more residents will think about opening up their own shop within the community.

"When you start having more and more businesses in a concentrated area it's going to have a positive affect on the area economy I think," says Correll.

"We have a vibrant downtown in Independence and all the merchants are getting together and really pulling together," Trout says.  "It's nice to see that comradery between everyone and I really hope that that continues."

Correll says that the city hopes to open more mall centers, so that more first time business owners can open up shops in the future.

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