Merlin Herbert believes anyone can run a business if they have the right training. Herbert, the owner of a 19 year-old Bloomfield-based welding company, participated in the e200 Emerging Leaders training program in Gallup last year. “The training helped me become a better manager,” he says.
An initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the e200 Emerging Leaders Program is a national curriculum that provides business owners in underserved markets with training, networking, resources and motivation to grow their business and create jobs. Now in its fourth year in Albuquerque, the program will be offered in Farmington this year for the first time. The training, which is valued at over $8,000, is free of charge and will be conducted from April through November, 2011, in both locations.
While the program targets Native American-owned businesses with high growth potential, leaders of all qualifying businesses may apply. Qualifying businesses should be at least three years old with annual revenue between $300,000 and $10 million and have at least one employee besides the participant. Participants must be key decision makers of the qualifying business.
Participants attend 40 hours of classes spread over 13 sessions and an additional 14 hours in mentoring groups. Workshop modules include finance and accounting, marketing, government contracting, human resources, and operations. Mentoring groups, which may continue after the workshop’s conclusion, encourage participants to review, discuss, and revise the action plans they created during the workshop.
For Merlin Herbert, who traveled from the Farmington area to Gallup once a month to attend last year’s sessions, the training was a turning point. “I needed something to help me grow my business,” he said. “Mostly, I needed the encouragement.” Herbert, who is not Native American, says he learned a lot from others in the classes. “Most were Native Americans,” he said, all of whom “were really bright people.”
Herbert thought he was running his business well but discovered he could do better, especially in employee management. “Workers can become better employees if given the right support and training,” something he instigated after his own series of workshops, he said. Herbert Welding, which fabricates and installs pipe and metal on oil rigs, employs about 35 people.
Since its inception in 2008, the e200 Emerging Leaders initiative has helped grow more than 600 businesses nationwide. Nearly 60 percent reported creating new jobs in their communities. Entrepreneurs also reported securing nearly $10 million in new financing and obtaining close to 500 federal, state and local contracts worth more than $112 million.
Business leaders interested in participating in this year’s program should contact the SBA’s New Mexico district office at 505-248-8225. The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest form is March 25, 2011.