IBDC expanding reach, gaining momentum.

"I see there is momentum now. People are becoming more aware of the programs. In the long-run, our goal is to try to make it a rural regional organization. " 

That's how Marie Capita, director of the Immokalee Business Development Center (IBDC), describes the center's progress to the Naples Daily News in a piece published July 31.

"Nearly three years old, the center has helped start and grow more than a dozen small businesses in Immokalee," reads the Daily News piece. 

"The goal is to expand its reach as a 501(c)(3), a charity designation it hopes to get from the IRS by the end of the year.
Operating as an extension of the county has made it difficult for the center to get grants, loans, or other financial help to fund its programs because contributors couldn’t get tax write-offs, Capita said.

"As a nonprofit, the center has the potential to raise more money and to extend its helping hand beyond the town of Immokalee. Capita is targeting other rural areas, such as Golden Gate Estates and Everglades City, to extend the center’s services, which include a six-week entrepreneurial school, one-on-one counseling and loan assistance."

While the Daily News piece says the center, sometimes referred to as "IMMBIZ," is "parting ways" with the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Center (CRA), use of that phrase makes the launch of IBDC sound less than amicable, perhaps. It was actually the plan all along to one day see the IBDC branch out on its own as its own free-standing organization. That goal will be accomplished by the end of the year. 

With its new organizational structure and independence, the IBDC will be even more capabale of helping budding entrepreneurs achieve the dream of business ownership. 

The IBDC business assistance program is the lifeline of the center. 

Members are enrolled in a two year program which begins with a six-week Entrepreneur School, builds through creation of a business plan with clear milestones and is monitored one-on-one until graduation at the end of the two year program.

Members are provided assistance with the full spectrum of business support from budgeting, bookkeeping to marketing.
To help new businesses the IBDC, created the IBDC MicroEnterprise Loan Fund in partnership with Florida Community Bank and One by One Leadership.

The IBDC has also become Immokalee entrepreneurs’ link to assistance for small business provided by the U.S. government. Three businesses were qualified this year alone for U.S. Department of Labor Section 3 Certification, which provides additional benefits to businesses owned by Americans from traditionally disadvantaged circumstances and backgrounds.
Partnerships now exist with SCORE, FGCU Florida Small Business Development Center, iTECH, Florida Community Bank. SunCoast Teachers Credit Union, BB&T Bank, One on One Leadership, US SBA, Ave Maria University, RCMA, and the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce. 

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