Entrepreneur Center taking hold at Downtown library

In Salisbury, there are more than 20 people who have started a business, an undertaking that can benefit from the new Education and Entrepreneur Center.

“It’s a huge asset for Salisbury. We have phenomenal entrepreneurs in town. At one location, the entrepreneurs can find all the resources they need available to them,” said Bobby Audley, who is coordinator of the center.

At the entrepreneur center, on the lower level of the library, they can find free services including a printer to make high-quality fliers and brochures. The machine can fold and staple booklets to “bring something professional to the competition,” Audley said.

There’s a conference room, refrigerator and coffee machine. There are no costs, except for educational courses. Call 443-260-1701.

The owner of Outside the Zone Leadership Development, Audley conducts business from his apartment, and speaks at college orientations and gives keynote addresses in states throughout the country. He’s one of 23 local entrepreneurs in town.

“Most are two- to three-people businesses,” he said. They include gift shops; the shoe store Deadstock, run by two people; Promoting Your World, a two-person operation; and an organic farmer.

“With technology today, you can run a thriving business from your home. A lot of entrepreneurs were going to coffee shops to do their work, but that is starting to go away. Having entrepreneur centers is a growing trend,” Audley explained.

Andrea Berstler, director of the library, said the idea was conceived about two years ago, after the  Eastern Shore Regional Library left the space in the  library building.

A section was renovated for entrepreneurs to collaborate, network and hold training and other events.

It was created from a grant from Wicomico County’s Economic Development Fund.

“Dave Ryan from the Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development office and I worked for about a year to develop the plan and get this started.

“There is support for this project from the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, SWED, SU’s School of Business and Wor-Wic. We are working with local leaders to plan workshops in support of the SU entrepreneur contests, provide some basic startup and business training and create a place where collaboration can produce results. Currently we are working to bring the Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups program to Salisbury – all offerings that aren’t stereotypical of a library,” Berstler said.

Audley has applied to bring the program 1 Million Cups, known as 1MC, to Salisbury. “If we all had 1 million cups of coffee together, we could solve the world’s problems,” he said, explaining the premise.

Founded in 2012,  it is now in more than  50 cities, he said, and brings “a forum for those interested in starting a new business or product to practice their pitch, improve their presentation and gain valuable feedback and support from not only their peers, but local mentors, advisors and possible future investors.”

The entrepreneur center, he said, offers those who work alone, or with one or two others,  interaction with others. Hours are flexible and usually in the evening. Fall hours will be 6 to 9 p.m. weekdays, but it will open during the day if there is need, Audley said.

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