Grant enables free advice for rural businesses

Small businesses and would-be entrepreneurs in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties can receive free advice on subjects such as business planning, marketing and e-commerce through a new program.

The Inland Northwest Women’s Business Center of Spokane will offer the Northeast Washington Business Development Network using $98,164 in federal grant money.

“Although the WBC has served the Tri-County area for three years from our main office, we’ve found that small businesses in that area need technical assistance and targeted programs where their business resides,” according to Spokane nonprofit Tincan, the center’s parent organization.

The program will provide weekly on-site technical assistance, along with monthly workshops and Web development assistance, according to Tincan.

While counseling will be free, some trainings will cost a small fee, said Karen Michaelson, Tincan’s executive director.

A business adviser is available Tuesdays in Colville at the Tri-County Economic Development District office and Thursdays at the Newport-Oldtown Chamber of Commerce, she said. Tincan is looking for an adviser to provide assistance to Ferry County and the northern tier of the Tri-County area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency provided the grant.

Tincan, formerly an acronym for The Inland Northwest Community Access Network, has undergone a legal name change, Michaelson said.

The women’s center, founded by Michaelson in 2004, offers free business counseling and other services.

Appointments for the three-county program are available by calling the center at (509) 747-2821.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians, which also received grant money from the agency, has revised plans for its $184,000, a tribal spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The tribe had planned to spend the money to establish a for-profit telecommunications company to install fiber-optic cable for businesses on its reservation and nearby areas of Pend Oreille County, according to the agency. Current plans call for installing fiber-optic cable for high-speed Internet access to a tribe-owned commerce park in Cusick, near its reservation, said tribal spokeswoman April Pierre.


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