A new center to assist small business owners and startups is coming to Fort Worth in August. It is expected that this will create new jobs and new businesses in the city.
Fort Worth is getting aid from a nonprofit in Dallas that has built aid centers around North Texas for the past 10 years. The Fort Worth Local Development Corporation approved $500,000 over two years to build the Fort Worth Entrepreneurship Center. It will be operated by DEC Network, a Dallas nonprofit that aims to develop and support new businesses.
The center will be temporarily located at 400 Bryan Avenue. South side near the same building as Roots Coffee.
Compared to other large cities in the state, the city of Fort Worth has struggled to build businesses downtown. Currently, it lags behind Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio in the amount of businesses created. The city is also looking to revamp its business support center.
City officials and small business advocates hope the new center is another resource to suppor
Robert Stearns, director of Fort Worth’s Department of Economic Development, said he visited DEC’s center at the Redbird Mixed-Use Development in South Dallas years ago and met Bill Chin, the organization’s CEO.
“I kind of went over there and met Bill and saw the operations,” Stearns said during a local development corporation meeting in March. “And that was really, I think, our first discussion … How can we get something like this here in Fort Worth?”
Fort Worth has grown significantly since the Business Assistance Center was established, Stearns said in an interview. At that time it made sense to have a center to support the trade. But with a population of 935,508 people, there is a need for more support.
“We need to encourage more of these types of operations throughout the community,” he added. “It’s just going to be important.”
Trey Bowles, co-founder and former CEO of DEC Networks, said he shared with the city how they have set up centers in the past. Bowles sits on the city’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, and is a chairman emeritus at DEC Network.
“I felt like it was important and to be able to make it in different cities and see it really, really helpful. And the city of Fort Worth wanted to do it,” Bowles said. “I came in and said, hey, I’ll help share how we’ve done this and what we’ve done before. I introduced the (city) Fort Worth Entrepreneur Center team, and they thought they’d be interested in doing this.” Would be great for
He said he will be the new center’s tenant as managing director of Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator.
Bowles said DEC revolves around a curriculum on starting a business — coaching, community, networking, raising funds and finding new customers for the business. The Fort Worth Entrepreneurship Center will host workshops, events, pitch competitions and a network of mentors who will assist those who walk through its doors.
Those who had offices in the DEC network raised more than $15 million in capital in 2022, according to the organization’s latest impact report.
‘You find the people who can really accelerate your growth’
The DEC Network Center in Redbird helped Nikki James develop her company Building Intellect Tutorial Services.
Since starting in 2020, James now runs a business with approximately 270 employees and works with the Dallas and DeSoto school districts. There is more recruitment on the books. James expects to grow to more than 400 employees. She said DEC Networks was a resource to help grow the business.
“It’s because I had great mentors that I could call on,” James said. “People who’ve done it before. It makes a difference when you can put it right there, the kind of framing.
Those who want to set up a physical office in the center will have to pay. Courses around business, advice and events are free.
Chin, CEO of DEC Networks, said he views the network as a sort of incubator program. But the real magic is the relationships people make.
“We are under no illusion that our curriculum is going to accelerate every business,” Chin said. “But what we’ve seen is that when we put people within the same walls, in a co-working situation, but also in an event, you find your capital and you find your future partners, you Find people who can really accelerate you.” Development.”
Chin also wants to bring in more investment dollars that are vital to fast-growing businesses. Fort Worth also lags behind in the amount of startup dollars, forcing some local entrepreneurs to look elsewhere. Chin seeks to bridge the gap for DFW investors to notice startups in Fort Worth.
“There are some incredibly exciting investment opportunities,” he said. “And for some reason we flew people from Dallas to San Francisco to find and set up our capital. He doesn’t need to go to San Francisco. They just need to drive right down the street. ,
‘Entrepreneurs need support everywhere’
Kay West, a FUSE Fellow who studied how to increase support for small businesses in Fort Worth, sees DEC as part of the solution for supporting business in the city. She thinks the David Jennings Business Assistance Center is still in need of change.
West says DEC Network has some skin in the game with engaging diverse communities. But she notes that the Near Southside, the center of Fort Worth, could leave some communities.
“It’s great for a group of people, but some groups of people don’t necessarily go there and they might not,” West said. “So what about everyone else? What about the other people who don’t have transportation or don’t even go down south?”
Chin acknowledges that no single organization can meet all the needs of the business community. This is where collaboration comes in. The Fort Worth Entrepreneurship Center plans to work with other resources and organizations around the city, including the Business Support Center.
Bowles also noted that the organization has aspirations of growth in Fort Worth.
“Entrepreneurs everywhere need support,” Bowles said. “Our hope is that this is just the first of many centers to get it right, and there’s no reason to say the programs can’t run out of space.”
Seth Bodine is business and economic development reporter for The Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @sbodine120,
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