Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

Jump Start Bridgeton Features Strong Local Collaboration

Posted on 7/27/2018 by Ray Lamboy

LAEDA’s return to Bridgeton this summer to provide its five-week Jump Start seminar series was a huge success. The WBC team opted to deliver this round in English since the last time they were in town the series was provided in Spanish in conjunction with TD Bank. The first seminar was so well-attended that the classroom had to be moved to one that could accommodate more people; fortunately, the building next door to the original site had ample space to accommodate the 20+ people coming most nights.

STEAMworks, the original host, is a “makerspace, a creative Do It Yourself place where people can gather to create, invent, and learn.” It offers Computer-Aided Design [CAD] software, a recording studio, 3D printers, laser cutting, a computer lab, and more, based on a membership model. It was only natural that LAEDA should partner with a space that supports creative entrepreneurial growth, and JumpStart attendees spanned a wide range of industries, some of which utilize the space in order to create their wares. Customized lemonade jars, beauty products, real estate, and collectible sneaker consignment were just some of the industries represented at the seminars.

Held on East Commerce St., in the heart of downtown Bridgeton, the third class on marketing featured a visit from Steve Paul, the Executive Director of Bridgeton Main Street. He spoke about economic opportunities with regard to the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) that applies to the area (meaning reduced sales tax!), real estate, and the new Cumberland Grows campaign that is attracting businesses from all around the world.

The fifth class included not only the certificate ceremony, in which 14 attendees received recognition for attending at least three of the seminars in order to cultivate and grow their business ideas, but also some excellent catering from the vegan restaurant that is housed in the same facility. Self Love vegan restaurant began as a Bridgeton food truck but expanded to a brick-and-mortar location when owners Vinnie and Kirsti identified enough local demand. Some JumpStart attendees were already familiar with the fare and were excited for their peers to try the food for the first time; it was overwhelmingly well received, and nicely complemented the celebratory tone of the evening as Jamie Shanker instructed on best practices for business negotiations.

A handful of participants have gone on to apply to LAEDA’s nine-week Entrepreneurial Development Training Program, where they will receive even more instruction on how to build and grow their businesses; others will pursue online education through LAEDA’s Online Business Academy, powered by DreamBuilder, where they can produce a business plan through a work-at-your-own-pace series of modules. Both of these programs remain free thanks to LAEDA’s generous funders.