Since 2000, more than 2,500 business owners and entrepreneurs from all over the state have enjoyed a graduation of their own, without much fanfare. This June, more than 100 Nevadans in Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, Virginia City, Winnemucca and Yerington will quietly join this elite group when they graduate from the NxLeveL intensive training program designed to encourage small-business expansion and promote economic development.
The NxLeveL program is the nation's largest and most effective entrepreneurial training network, having more than 300,000 graduates and more than 7,500 certified instructors. The program is offered in all 50 states, as well as American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. In Nevada, the NSBDC at the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Business delivers the intensive program, having conducted trainings at 25 locations all over the state.
According to Kathy Carrico, administrator of the program in Nevada and director of statewide training for the NSBDC, the traditional, 13-week "NxLeveL for Entrepreneurs" course is for entrepreneurs or current business owners wanting to create or fine tune a business plan, as well as learn ways to better execute their business goals and improve their business practices. The new, 15-week "NxLeveL for Start-up Micro Entrepreneurs" is geared more for those contemplating a new business venture or wanting to achieve self-sufficiency through self-employment, but who are not yet at the business plan development stage.
"Self-employment is not for everyone, but those who choose this path must be smart about it, and stay smart, taking advantage of the resources that are available to help them succeed," Carrico said. "The NxLeveL training is one of the best resources in the country, but it takes a lot of time and commitment from the participants."
The program also takes a lot of time and commitment from Carrico, who has helped raise more than a half million dollars in private and government funding to support the program and offset the cost of the training for participants, usually reducing the cost from $700 to $195. She travels the state, partnering with dozens of other agencies that advocate for best business practices to plan and implement the trainings. Certified as a "NxLeveL Master Trainer," she has provided official NxLeveL Instructor Certification to more than 40 Nevada instructors, and more than 200 instructors nationally.
In 2009, Carrico took the program a step further, being the first in the nation to offer the new Spanish editions of the training.
"We have had many Hispanics take the course with English materials," she explained. "But, many of our Hispanic business owners who speak English sometimes experience difficulty reading and writing in English. For them, offering this course in Spanish allows the best learning environment to help them achieve success in their businesses."
As the 125 NxLevel students in Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, Virginia City, Winnemucca and Yerington prepare to graduate from their courses in June, another round of training will begin in Reno, May 9, when the new "NxLeveL for Start-up Micro Entrepreneurs" will be offered in both English and Spanish.
"We are so happy that we were able to join forces with the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative and the Nevada Women's Business Center to offer this new training course," Carrico said. "The University and NSBDC have been the drivers of the NxLeveL program in Nevada, but we couldn't possibly work with all the entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs that we do each year without our cadre of terrific partners."
The two trainings in Reno (in Spanish and English) beginning May 9 will be held 15 consecutive Wednesdays, 6 to 9 p.m., at the University of Nevada, Reno Redfield Campus in south Reno. Two training courses (in Spanish and English) will be held in Las Vegas beginning in August, partially funded by the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce and Wells Fargo. For more information, contact Carrico at the University of Nevada, Reno, (775) 784-6879 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the Nevada Small Business Development Center.