Spokane Journal of Business

Whitworth, UW start business certificate program downtown

Whitworth hosts courses for small, established ventures

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Starting next month, Whitworth University, in partnership with the University of Washington and the Eastern Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center, will offer a new business certificate program downtown that's targeted at owners or executives of women- and minority-owned small businesses.

Business leaders who are enrolled in the six-session program will learn business management fundamentals, such as how to improve operational efficiencies and how to reach new customers, among other topics, says Tate White, assistant director of graduate studies in business for Whitworth.

Sessions will be taught at Whitworth's U-District classroom building, located at 534 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

"The program provides opportunities for business owners and managers to study proven business fundamentals and to apply them to their company," White says. "Many small business owners don't have a formal business background. Typically, most are good at what they do, but they don't have formal training in the management side of a business."

The cost for the certificate program, which will be taught in six three-hour, evening sessions over the course of six weeks, is $200. Some scholarships will be available for eligible students, White says.

The program's first session is set for June 5, and those interested in enrolling can register for the course online at http://bit.ly/2012Spokane.

White says businesses that would benefit most from the course would be at least two years old, have around $300,000 or more in annual revenues, and have more than two employees. He says businesses that vary from those characteristics won't necessarily be denied entry into the program, but enrollment is limited to 25 spots, and the program is targeting businesses that fit those criteria.

Weekly class sessions for the business certificate program will be taught in person by faculty from UW's Foster School of Business's Business & Economic Development Center, White says.

The certificate program is planned to be offered here one time, but that could change depending on demand, he says.

"We'll wait to see the response from the community, and the University of Washington will determine if another similar program is offered here, or if this is a reoccurring offering," he says.

White says the UW has offered a similar business certificate program on the west side of the state since 2009, and more than 300 business owners have completed the courses. Of those businesses that completed the program, he says 68 percent reported seeing revenue growth.

"Just before the recession, in 2008, there was a significant number of minority-owned businesses in the U.S., and what UW saw was that during the downturn, those small, women- and minority-owned businesses were more impacted than the larger businesses," he says. "There was an opportunity to aid them because they needed skills the most."

The PTAC's Eastern Washington office, based here, has partnered with the two schools to recruit qualified businesses based in the Inland Northwest that would benefit from enrolling in the certificate program, he says. The PTAC office here helps small, women-, and minority-owned businesses across Eastern Washington secure federal, state, and local government contracts, along with providing other business resources.

Separately, Whitworth says it plans later this summer to offer for the first time its Master of Business Administration and Master of International Management degree programs at its downtown location.

"It makes sense for the (MBA) program to be located in the central business district of the city, where most of the business professionals are working," White says. "There has been so much demand to have the program come downtown."

The two-year MBA and MIM degree programs will be taught in the same building as the upcoming business certificate program, and will join Whitworth's current downtown offering of an undergraduate degree completion program in organizational management. Both of the graduate business degrees still will be offered at the university's main campus north of Spokane.

  • Chey Scott

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