Start-up Hub Takes Library “Beyond” the Books with Entrepreneurial Events

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Rock It! Lab will host an event examining a recent report from Winrock International regarding racial and gender disparities in loans to small businesses. Dr. Julia Chears-Young, guest speaker for “The Barriers to Capital Access – Report Discussion,” will guide attendees through the findings of this comprehensive survey of Arkansas-based people of color and women-owned businesses documenting the factors and barriers to capital access. The free virtual program is scheduled for Thursday, March 25, at noon. Dr. Chears-Young is the owner and Principal Researcher of Precise Data Consulting, LLC, and is currently serving as the principal investigator for the Small Business Access to Capital Study sponsored by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Winrock International. Registration is available here.

The Arkansas Small Business Access to Capital Study examined sources of business funding used by different demographics, and found disparities in bank lending to those demographics. The study report concludes that, “unequal capital access could stifle the growth of thousands of businesses and households, and prevent economic advancement of communities across the state.”

The CALS Rock It! Lab will also host a monthly program series connecting new and aspiring entrepreneurs with experienced business owners. “Beyond the Idea” events will allow entrepreneurs to share their stories – which include how to turn an idea into reality, best business advice, tips for success, and their failures en route to success. The first guest for the series will be Garbo Hearne, director and owner of Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing and Hearne Fine Art Gallery. Hearne will share business advice and tips she’s gleaned over the years heading one of the most successful and well-known Black-owned businesses in Central Arkansas. The inaugural “Beyond the Idea” program will be presented via Zoom Tuesday, April 6, at noon.

These events have been organized by Rock It! Lab program coordinator Leah Patterson. She is the founder of Leah’s School of Latin Dance and MOVE makeup, a sweatproof and natural cosmetic line. Prior to joining the Rock It! Lab, Patterson hosted a weekly web show named “Shop Black Live,” showcasing black businesses where viewers can buy directly from proprietors during the show.

The Rock It! Lab, a partnership of the library system and Advancing Black Entrepreneurship, is a learning and start-up hub designed to promote entrepreneurship, particularly in under-resourced communities. The Rock It! Lab was developed as a place for aspiring business owners to access useful, reliable, and free information to aid them throughout the process of starting their company.

For more information, call 501.918.3000.