Program adds NKU as site

Thirty years ago, men dominated the college classroom. With the feminist movement in the 1970s, more women sought career paths.

Women are now the dominant gender in the college classroom, but many still lack the education they need to succeed in the workforce.

Northern Kentucky University has recently become a site for the Kentucky Minority and Women Construction Training Program.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC) formed the program that strives to help eliminate the barriers these groups face when starting a new business.

The 17-week course begins in October and covers subjects such as business plans, scheduling, accounting, and insurance.

Renee McClanahan, a workforce development specialist for the Department for Employment Services, said she works with many women and minorities who have the potential to succeed, but lack the education.

“We were not given enough opportunities or grants to give women and minorities ability to get started in business,” said McClanahan. “It was frustrating because these people would come in and I would have nothing to offer them. I felt useless.”

According to Dee Dee Harburt, director of SBDC Special Programs, the training sessions help individuals who already have the trade skills, but lack the technical know-how of starting and running a business.

Originally just offered in Lexington, Ky., the program has now grown to five different locations throughout the state, including Louisville, Hopkinsville, Paintsville, and Highland Heights.

NKU’s SBDC director Thomas Burke works with professors in training the class once a week in Founder’s Hall.

The class is open to any women or minority students who have at least 51 percent interest in a company and fill out the application.

The seminar is free for attendees whose businesses are certified as part of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program and $50 for those attendees who are not certified.

The program is continuing to have success. According to Burke, NKU’s SBDC has helped create 25 new jobs and three new businesses between July and December 2005.

In that time, 544 trainees attended 26 training seminars, most held on campus.

McClanahan is excited about the progress Kentucky is making. “This will create a greater workforce pull in Northern Kentucky,” she said.