The Austin Public Library Joins a Nationwide Initiative to Help Entrepreneurs Launch Businesses with Focus on Women and People of Color

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Austin Public Library Joins a Nationwide Initiative to Help Entrepreneurs Launch Businesses with Focus on Women and People of Color

Starting one’s own business may soon become the most viable path to achieving the American dream. It is projected that by 2020 half of all workers will be independent freelancers, responsible for their own fortunes and well-being.

Knowing this, the Austin Public Library is partnering with 11 other public library systems from across the U.S. and Canada to explore ways libraries can reach and engage entrepreneurs in their communities – particularly people of color, women, immigrants and veterans. This effort is being led by the Urban Libraries Council, a membership organization of North America's leading public library systems, as an extension of ULC’s collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to strengthen libraries’ capacity to support entrepreneurship.

“The library plays an important role in building businesses and our economy,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “This experience will shape current thinking about how libraries can support entrepreneurship and create new opportunities for all community members.”

"Independent workers and small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the heartbeat in many of our communities, stated Roosevelt Weeks, Director of Libraries for the Austin Public Library system. "Partnering with the Austin Economic Development Department, we want to make sure small businesses in Austin have the tools they need to succeed.”

Participating in this initiative, the Austin Public Library will develop partnerships with local businesses and organizations as well as the Small Business Program of the Austin Economic Development Department to offer workshops for starting and growing a successful small business and will create a space for resources needed by entrepreneurial startups. Here's a list of upcoming business classes at Austin Public Library branches throughout town: library.austintexas.gov/event-tags/smallbusiness.

Entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in growing local economies as technology continues to transform the labor market. However, barriers to resources and information prevent many individuals from pursuing or achieving entrepreneurial success. Public libraries are uniquely equipped to reach populations who are underrepresented in today’s entrepreneurial economy and most in need of guidance.

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