Southeast Ohio Community Entrepreneurship Program

Let us help you take control of your financial future! Join our bootcamp to start or grow a small business!

We believe in the power of entrepreneurship to help individuals and families take control of their lives and build more secure futures. We also believe that healthy, growing small businesses contribute to more vibrant communities. Join the Southeast Ohio Community Entrepreneurship Program. We will help you start or grow your own small business and make a positive impact in our community. 

The program starts with a bootcamp over 6 Saturdays in Summer 2022 and continues for the balance of 12 months. You will get training, one-on-one coaching, and mentoring from seasoned small business owners and entrepreneurs. By achieving business milestones, you will be eligible for grants. You will have access to small business loans through partnering lenders. The program is valued at $500, but all participants with financial needs will receive $475 scholarships. To eliminate as many barriers to participation as possible, the program will reimburse gas expenses and is actively working to arrange child care. We don't want anything to stand in the way of you investing in yourself and your future. We hope you'll join us!

The Center for Entrepreneurship manages the program in close partnership with local nonprofit groups, government offices, small businesses, and other university partners across Southeast Ohio. Apply before 11:59PM on Monday, June 6, 2022.



In partnership with Notre Dame's McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business and a growing network of community entrepreneurship initiatives, we seek to:

  • Foster the creation of new, profitable ventures by those facing economic or other disadvantages
  • Assist existing small businesses owned by those with disadvantages in becoming sustainable and growing
  • Work with community members on the development of both the person as an entrepreneur and the business as a successful venture
  • Identify and share best practices in poverty alleviation through entrepreneurship
  • Measure and track the development and performance of entrepreneurs and their ventures based on program participation
  • Celebrate entrepreneurial achievements of those facing/overcoming adversity

An Integrated Approach to Community Empowerment

The Southeast Ohio Community Entrepreneurship Program is an integrated, multi-faceted program that involves six core elements:

  • Training Programs: Community members participate in a six-week bootcamp, held on Saturday mornings, that introduces basic tools, concepts, and principles relevant to launching and growing a successful venture. The bootcamp is designed for people with little to no resources or background.
  • One-on-One Consulting: Following the training, a consulting initiative pairs faculty, graduate students, and other partners with the entrepreneurs to work one-on-one solving particular problems.
  • Mentoring: Participants can receive mentorship from a successful entrepreneur who, where possible, has experiences related to the type of business the entrepreneur is working on. In addition, an ‘expertise pool’ of mentors is available with advice on specific problem areas.
  • Community Connect: Entrepreneurs are connected to valuable resources in the community through quarterly community forums, an internet platform, and other communication vehicles. Another component is the Co-Marketing program, which encourages community members to do business with the program’s entrepreneurs.
  • Microcredit: Local organizations and financial institutions create a micro-credit fund that provides low-interest and no-interest loans and grants to individuals as they attempt to launch ventures.
  • Research and Tracking: The program conducts research documenting the challenges facing entrepreneurs, tracking their progress and identifying elements that are successful in helping them to move forward.

Program Timeline

Program components from June 2022 (starting with the Bootcamp) extending through May 2023

How to Get Involved:

After applying and receiving acceptance into the Southeast Ohio Community Entrepreneurship Program, participants will begin their experience with the Community Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs.

Community Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs

Program participants will benefit immensely from the Southeast Ohio Community Bootcamp—an intense, hands-on exposure to the fundamentals of launching and growing a successful venture, taught by seasoned faculty, subject matter experts, and successful entrepreneurs. The bootcamp occurs on six Saturday mornings in the summer. 

Topics covered in the Community Bootcamp address all facets of a successful venture, ranging from the development of a viable business concept to understanding your market, designing your profit model, setting up operations properly, marketing your venture, and understanding the basic numbers. Our underlying focus is how to think and act in entrepreneurial ways—including how to do more with less—and how to grow a venture when you have little in the way of resources. The approach will be interactive, so participants will be encouraged to bring business ideas and challenges into the weekly discussions.

Who is eligible to participate?

Anyone in the community who suffers from adverse economic, physical, or related circumstances is eligible to participate in the program. We focus on supporting community members living in poverty who have a dream of starting and growing a venture, including those who have already started a venture but are struggling.

What is the cost?

The price of the Community Bootcamp is $500. However, scholarships of $475 are available for anyone with financial needs. All applicants are considered for scholarships. Furthermore, we know gas prices are a burden - especially now. We don't want that expense to prevent anyone from participating in our bootcamp in Nelsonville this summer, so mileage reimbursement will be available to any bootcamp participant who needs it. 

How do I apply?

The application deadline is June 6, 2022. 

How can I support the program?

We welcome the involvement of community members as volunteers, mentors, and donors. Please contact program director Paul Benedict at to learn more.



Contact the program director, Paul Benedict

Bootcamp Details:

Six Saturday mornings, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.*
*Most Saturdays will also include an extra session from 12:00-1:00 p.m. that digs deeper into a particular topic with local experts (lawyers, bankers, social media professionals, experts in government contracts).

2022 Bootcamp Dates:

Week One: June 18, 2022
Week Two: June 25, 2022
Week Three: July 9, 2022
Week Four: July 16, 2022
Week Five: July 23, 2022
Week Six (Final Session Graduation): July 30, 2022

Bootcamp Location:

Stuart's Opera House
52 Public Square, Nelsonville, OH 45764

Program Partners


Area 14 Workforce Development Board

Athens County Foundation

Building Bridges to Careers

COAD (The Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development)

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

Hocking College

LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network

Marietta College Entrepreneurship Department

Ohio University College of Business

Ohio University Innovation Center

Ohio's Winding Road

Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) Appalachia

University of Rio Grande

Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Service

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