Workshop covers cooperative businesses, what they are and how they work

A workshop on cooperative businesses, what they are and how they work is March 3, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at The Funhouse Commons. This is the first Island Enterprise Lab-sponsored event, which will be led by professional co-op developers from the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia.

Island Enterprise Lab held its first meeting Jan. 17, where more than 35 individuals representing nearly 30 small businesses or business startups met at the Funhouse Commons.

Eric Youngren, Commons board president, led the group through a brain-storming session that produced ideas about how to ramp-up small business development on Orcas.

The group asked for help with bookkeeping, business plans and marketing, and the Commons staff said they could provide lectures and classes in basic business software programs like Quickbooks and Microsoft Word and Excel.

Everyone was interested in learning more about new media—website construction and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“That’s where we think the Funhouse Commons can really make a difference,” said Director Pete Moe. “We have the skills, resources and equipment here to help get everyone up to speed on the latest Internet technology for business.”

The Commons has decided to create “office hours” for Enterprise Lab participants during week days so that people can have a temporary “office.”

“We are also looking at ways to provide dedicated tech support during these hours,” said Krista Bouchey, the Commons assistant director.

The group also discussed finding ways to generate venture capital on the island for local businesses.

“That’s how we can bring in some of the talent that resides here on Orcas,” said Youngren. “Everyone knows there is top-notch business experience here. We want to get retired executives in here working with these startups as mentors and maybe as potential investors.”

The Funhouse Commons Board of Directors said its excited about becoming a small business incubator, supporting local industries of all types, from software to farming.

For more info, go to Facebook and search “Island Enterprise Lab.”

To attend the workshop’s catered lunch, which requires a reservation, call 376-7177.