From the March 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

Looking for constructive feedback on your business plan? Three forums hosted each year by the Women's Enterprise Initiative (WEI) may provide the perfect opportunity.

Sponsored jointly by the City of Newton Planning and Development Department, Pine Manor College and the New England Women Business Owners, each forum enables two Massachusetts women to make 15-minute presentations of their business plans to a panel of business experts as well as an audience of community members, entrepreneurs and other interested parties.

The idea behind the free, three-hour forums is to give women a supportive environment in which to network and voice their ideas. After each event, presenters have a one-on-one meeting with planning committee members to analyze what they gained from the forum and to determine what other help is needed, such as financing or technical assistance. Entrepreneurs are also given a videotape of the session and can take one free business training course at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill. Participants are also assigned a mentor to provide ongoing support and feedback.

The next forum is scheduled for April 16; interested individuals should contact Linda Walden at the City of Newton Planning Department at (617) 552-7135, ext. 104.

North Carolina And New York

Teaming up with business schools pays off.

Small businesses looking for sharp minds can benefit from two programs that connect education and entrepreneurship.

  • The Urban Enterprise Corps, housed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, matches women and minority entrepreneurs with MBA graduates from 30 top business schools around the country. The appropriate graduate is matched with the company and hired and paid by the company as a consultant for one year, with the option of renewing the relationship for an additional year.

The program targets companies in North Carolina that have at least $1 million in annual revenues, have been in business three to five years and are in high-growth industries, such as environmental technology, construction, agile manufacturing, logistics and telecommunications.

Interested entrepreneurs can begin applying in July; once a match is made, the graduate begins working for the company immediately. Entrepreneurs are responsible for paying the individual's salary and benefits, and are reimbursed for the salaries on a monthly basis. There is also a fee to participate in the program.

For more information or to apply for a match, access the program's Web site at www.bschool.unc.edu/infocenters/kenan_institute.html or call the Urban Enterprise Corps at (919) 962-1535.

  • In New York, the Long Island Association's Project Long Island pairs students from one of the area's 20 colleges with local companies for internships.

Students with backgrounds in areas such as engineering and science are matched with companies for paid and unpaid internships to handle a variety of tasks. Businesses can then tap into the students' high-tech skills to help grow their companies.

Long Island entrepreneurs interested in hiring an intern should register with the association by calling (516) 295-5373. Be prepared to describe what type of intern you're looking for, what their duties will be and whether they will be paid.

National

Government technology aids your company.

The Federal government's laboratories are home to hundreds of research projects. Unfortunately, most small-business owners don't have the time or the know-how to weed through them to find applicable technology.

A new program at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Business Development Center's Resource Center could make the process simpler for entrepreneurs nationwide. The SBDC is home to a library of Department of Energy (DOE) reports on subjects ranging from biomedical science and chemistry to physics and renewable energy--topics that can help you streamline your business. The center also contains the International Energy Thesaurus, a reference resource that contains information about plumbing, weatherization and hydraulic control applications.

You can contact the library for free help finding which DOE project might provide a solution to a problem in your business. For more information, call (423) 752-1774.