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New Women’s Business Center opens in East Central Community Center

Today's metro section had a business story on the new Women's Business Center being run by SNAP at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone.

Here's a part of it:

Heather Riviere is a month away from starting her first real business, a mobile food truck serving crepes at markets and fairs.

Riviere, 44, lost her job last fall and realized she had the chance to make the transition to something rewarding and creative.

She got the kick-start she needed while taking courses recently at Spokane’s new Women’s Business Center, Riviere said.

The women’s center, managed by nonprofit assistance provider SNAP at the East Central Community Center, offers free training and financial guidance for women looking to start a business.

It opened about a month ago and celebrates with a grand opening Friday.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the program offers classes and one-on-one counseling for women – and men – starting a new business or trying to grow a startup.

It also offers business webinars and guidance on applying for loans or learning how to apply for government contracts.

Federal officials say they want to increase the number of women-owned firms in the United States from the current level of 28 percent. That number is for all nonfarm businesses, according to the National Women’s Business Council, a nonpartisan federal advisory council.

The grant provides $136,500 per year for five years, with the option to renew the grant for an additional three years, said Kerri Rodkey, director of SNAP’s financial access program.

The manager of the new center is Laurie Roth-Donnelly.  In case the name sounds familiar (as it did to us), Laurie at the center is not the same Laurie Roth who was a conservative radio talk show host in Spokane about three years ago. That Laurie Roth's web page is here. We don't know where that Laurie Roth is; she is not affiliated with the business center.



Idaho food stamp recipients to see benefit decrease Nov. 1

More than 220,000 low-income Idahoans will see less money for food at the end of this month, Boise State Public Radio reports, as stimulus funds added to the national food stamp program in 2009 expire. Come Nov. 1, Idahoans who receive aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see about a 5 percent reduction in benefits, according to the state Department of Health & Welfare. The maximum benefit for a single person will fall from $200 a month to about $189; click here for BSPR’s full report.

Spokane Area Farmers’ Market Initiative supporting SNAP/EBT customers

Starting this month, the Spokane Farmers’ Market, Thursday Market in South Perry and the West Central Marketplace will all offer a partial match for purchases made with SNAP/EBT(formerly called ‘food stamps’) at their markets. For every $5 (up to $15 spent) in SNAP/EBT benefits used per market day, customers will receive an additional $2 in ‘Fresh Match’ bucks (max $6 in bucks per market), good for all SNAP-eligible products.

The goals of the model are to increase the purchasing power of customers currently using SNAP at markets, to encourage a larger volume of SNAP sales, and to attract and retain new customers shopping at farmers markets.

The initiative is a pilot project supported and administered by Catholic Charities of Spokane (CCS), with funding through an anonymous donor and other support through the Washington State Farmers’ Market Association (WSFMA). ‘Fresh Match’ will be available on normal operating days for each market until the pilot ends on October 11. Data will be collected on the program at each market, including tracking changes at the market days remaining in the season after the Oct. 11 close of the program.

Franchise expert to present two lectures next week at GU.

A noted franchise expert, Ben Litalien, will be on Gonzaga University's campus next week for two lectures on “Franchising for Community Impact.”

The two 90-minute presentations will be Thursday, May 31, starting at 7:30 a.m. and then at 9:15 a.m.
Both are in the Wolff Auditorium at GU's Jepson Center and are free to the public.
The earlier session focuses on issues relevant to business owners and entrepreneurs. The second session ocuses on franchising and nonprofit groups.
A press release quotes him saying, “Given the sustained unemployed an under-employed populations across our communities, taking a deeper look at the franchise model is essential for providing economic stimulus."
GU is cohosting the event with SNAP, a Spokane-based nonprofit dedicated to assisting people and groups improve their lives.
Litalien operates the company FranchiseWell LLC.

WA Lege Day 30: No time limit on child rape charges?

OLYMPIA – Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was among victims of child sexual abuse urging the Legislature Wednesday to drop the statute of limitations that they say shields pedophiles from justice.
“It took me years to be able to call what happened to me between age 10 and 18 rape,” said McLaughlin, who told members of the House Public Safety Committee about years of sexual abuse by her father. “You shouldn’t lose the ability to bring about justice just because some years have elapsed.”
Michael Ross of Spokane, the founder of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said some victims of child sexual abuse don’t come to grips with what happened to them until they are in their 40s or 50s. Current law that requires a victim of a child rape to report before turning 29 protects pedophiles, said Ross who told the committee he was abused by a Catholic priest in his teens but repressed that memory until he was 47.
McLaughlin and Ross were among supporters of House Bill 1657, a proposal by Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, to lift the statute of limitations for any rape of a minor by an adult. In a sometimes emotional hearing, they and other victims recounted their histories of sexual abuse that they acknowledge the bill can’t help because the law can’t be made retroactive.
It would, however, tell pedophiles from that point on “they could never escape justice”, said Virginia Graham of Spokane, who said she was sexually abused starting at age 10 and her father threatened to kill her if she reported him.
But Lonnie Johns-Brown of the Washington Coalition on Sexual Assault said she was ambivalent about the proposal because it might not have much effect. Rape convictions are difficult even when cases are prosecuted quickly and have hard evidence, she said.
McLaughlin said after the hearing it was the first time she had talked about being sexually abused in such a public setting. She sometimes speaks at victim support groups or other small gatherings. She agreed to testify for the bill because “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Her faith has allowed her to move on, she said, but the fact that her father was never held accountable still weighs heavily on her family.

Spokesman-Review story roundup

Photobucket Photo courtesy of Greater Spokane. STA budget dilemma might include raising fares. The Spokane Transit Authority has a problem: While ridership has increased, revenue is falling since more than 70 percent of their funding comes from sales taxes. According to the S-R, the $79 million budget for 2009 calls for delaying purchases of some buses, postponing high-tech innovations and slightly reducing the number of jobs. As for the fare increase, the citizen advisory committee will brainstorm ideas and then take their suggestions to the public for comment before the STA makes a decision. (A 25-cent increase is expected.) Full story here. Energy assistance. A federal program called Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has increased its funds due to high heating oil and natural gas prices this winter. The program is administered through community service agencies in each state (like SNAP) but unlike state funds, this money can’t be held back or withdrawn due to budget deficits. Full story here. From Rebecca Nappi, below are some instructions for local energy assistance: •In-person appointments are required to receive non-emergency energy assistance. Spokane County residents should call SNAP’s appointment line – (509) 242-2376 – Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A limited number of appointments can be scheduled at www.snapwa.org on Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. •In Kootenai County, energy assistance is given through Community Action Partnership in Coeur d’Alene, which can be reached at (208) 664-8757. If residents have a shut-off notice or are dangerously low of their heating source material, they should call as soon as the notice appears or the emergency arises. If they are current with their bill, they should call for an appointment the first week of January, because all December appointments are booked. •SNAP and Community Action Partnership urge low-income residents to let their utility company know that they are trying to schedule – or have scheduled – appointments for energy assistance so that their heating supplies will not be shut off.

Heating help on the way?

Congress is now considering a big increase in funding for a program that helps the poor pay for winter heating.