The Ammons Family (l-r) Jamel, Natalie, Nicholas, Lawana, Reginald, Renita, and Walter Pone. Four are GMI graduates.

Business 101 workshops for Gary entrepreneurs

Contributed By:The 411 News

Celebrating graduates of Gary Micro-Enterprise Initiative

A chance to learn about becoming a business owner or improving one already started is the challenge entrepreneurs accepted from the Gary Micro-Enterprise Initiative.

“GMI is an initiative that encourages residents to think about starting businesses or expanding their current business in a number of areas such as: retail, real estate, culinary, professional services,” said, Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson. “We have heard great reviews from residents participating in the program.” The Mayor added, those completing the program can also apply for small business loans through our partnership with First Financial Bank.

Wednesday night, 17 graduates of the program received certificates and were feted at a “Celebration of Entrepreneurs” hosted by the City of Gary.

Lawana Ammons-Hunter believes home ownership is one way to help rebuild Gary. “I am starting a real estate company that will offer land contracts and mortgages. My goal is to help residents repair their credit and become home owners within a year’s time.”

Two more Ammons, Reginald and Renita were also in the graduating class. Reginald came to learn about opening a restaurant; Renita wants to open a home for run-away teens.

These sisters and brothers were likely influenced by their brother Nicholas, who graduated in the prior class. Nicholas operates Little Big Guys, a moving company.

For 10 years, Danielle Harris has been an event planner. She said the course led her to reconsider owning a brick and mortar establishment for her business. Harris plans on going mobile with party buses. “I can pull up to your home or school and provide a great experience.”

The entrepreneurs, all Gary residents, attended workshops held on Monday and Wednesday evenings each week at Arthouse: A Social Kitchen. The course is 8 weeks with 16 sessions.

Workshop topics included: Business Entity/Structures, Components of Business Plan, Financial Management, Marketing Plan, Using Social Media for Start-up Companies, Business Insurance and Pitching Your Business.

The goal of GMI is to provide a road map for Gary residents as they journey toward business ownership. GMI provides instruction and direction and works with Gary residents to increase their knowledge in conducting business in the city. The GMI program is supported by the Department of Commerce/Community Development Division with funding through the Legacy Foundation.

Another GMI graduate, Simon Lillie said he doesn’t plan to work in security for the rest of his life. The former Gary Police Officer and currently head of security for the Gary Community Schools Corporation came to learn about being his own boss. He wants to open a sports bar & grill in the Miller neighborhood. “It won’t be in the immediate future,” he said, “and I needed this Business 101 course.”

Husband and wife, Kenneth and Inez Galvin are two more GMI grads. Inez has 20 years of nail technician experience and is expanding into retail fashions and accessories, combining both businesses. “I want to be a one-stop shop for makeup and massages, pampering my customers from head to toe.”

In March this year, the city of Gary partnered with First Financial Bank to establish a Micro-Loan pool of $100,000. The pool makes available small business loans to GMI graduates. The loans are given out in $10,000 increments and are renewable annually.

Joslyn Kelly, the owner of J’s Breakfast Club in the Glen Park neighborhood was the first recipient of the loan.

For more information about the GMI program, contact Arthouse: A Social Kitchen at 219-979-8156.


GMI graduating class


Inez and Kenneth Galvin

Story Posted:09/27/2019

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