Hispanic/Latino business incubator program registration

March 28, 2022

Registration is underway for the region’s first business incubator program for Hispanics and Latinos, according to event organizers.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is partnering with the Dalton Innovation Accelerator (DIA) and a South American entrepreneur who supports other Hispanic entrepreneurs to launch the pilot program, which is open to anyone who wants to start or grow a business.

“During a conversation about how to serve our communities better, we recognized a need for a Spanish incubator like DIA,” said Leyner Argueta, GNTC’s Business Management program director and instructor. Argueta will serve as program facilitator on behalf of GNTC.

“The Dalton Innovation Accelerator (DIA) exists to serve entrepreneurs in our community, DIA Executive Director Lauren Holverson said. “We must continually assess the needs of those we aim to serve and provide additional programming to meet those entrepreneurs where they are, while also eliminating as many barriers as possible. We are excited to be participating in this program.”

Argueta said this incubator program is the first of its kind in the region.

DIA is providing mentorship opportunities, access to the space at the Dalton Innovation Accelerator during the program, promotional opportunities, administrative support and hosting a networking event as part of the program, Holverson said, adding that DIA hopes the courses “encourage more individuals to seek assistance and support as they start their entrepreneurial journey. You don’t have to do it alone.”

Viviana Ramirez poses outside Eclectic79 Boutique in downtown Dalton.
Viviana Ramirez poses outside Eclectic79 Boutique in downtown Dalton.

“This program is fantastic for individuals that may have completed the Latin American Association’s ¡AVANZANDO JUNTAS! (Moving Forward Together), or similar programs,” she explained. “We want to build a pipeline of programs and services that assist entrepreneurs in each phase of their journey.”

Viviana Ramirez, owner of Eclectic79 and Casa Del Café in Dalton, said she was born and raised in California while her husband is from Mexico originally but has lived most of his life in America. She said she hosted meetings once a month before the pandemic to help young Hispanic entrepreneurs to get started by connecting them with resources they need. She is working to resume that schedule now because she constantly receives requests for help obtaining an EIN, registering a new business in Georgia, etc.

About 30 people attended the monthly class before COVID, and one of the attendees has opened a business on the same block where her businesses are located, said Ramirez, who also serves on the board of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.

“We are about a 50% Hispanic/Latino population in Whitfield County,” she said. “This will really help to get these entrepreneurs going with what they need. This needs to be in-person (guidance), just like the English incubator classes at DIA.”

Argueta is excited to partner with Alex Contreras, the leader of Grupo Founders (Founders Group), which helps startups and entrepreneurs through personal and organizational development and is guided by the principle that companies and employees will benefit if business owners grow personally. The organization is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Founders Group has led several successful incubators in Latin and South America,” Argueta said.

Classes will begin Tuesday, April 19, and applications will be accepted until April 19 or until the 15 available seats are filled. Seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 10-week program will meet twice weekly at GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton. 

The course costs $350, which is due at the time of registration.

DIA has not scheduled future courses but has discussed programming in the fall, Holverson said.

For more information or to register, go to visit the Greater Dalton Chamber website.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,134 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,528 students and an additional enrollment of 2,606 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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