By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – For years, the Center for Women and Enterprise’s (CWE) Central Mass. office, based in Worcester, has helped hundreds of people jumpstart their careers. Now, with a move to a new Westborough location, the nonprofit hopes to expand its reach to serve more people beyond the city’s borders.
When their lease was up in Worcester, the organization decided a move to Westborough made sense for several reasons, according to the organization’s Central Mass. Program Manager Lori Allen. The Worcester location was not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and parking was an issue at times.
“We also knew that we needed to be more centrally located to best serve our clients in the Shrewsbury to Milford span,” she added. “But we will still have a presence in Worcester though. Programs will still be held at the public library and Workforce Career Center.”
The new 69 Milk St. location, in the old mill building, now houses office space and a classroom. Its convenience to major roads such as Route 9, the Mass. Turnpike and Route 495, as well as plenty of free parking, are also pluses, Allen said.
The Center for Women and Enterprise is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people start and grow their businesses. The focus has been primarily to help women who often found themselves facing structural barriers, both cultural and social, to entrepreneurship, Allen said. But men are welcome to partake of its services as well.
The center strives to help small business owners as well as assisting those who are transitioning from one career to another. Over the past years, the center has helped women start businesses in the fields of health and wellness such as yoga studios, personal training, nutrition and product development. Other businesses have included such things as child care, personal organizing, and food-related services.
Allen said the center is now also seeing a “subset” of women over age 50, who, although they are well-educated, are challenged in finding meaningful employment.
“And we are also finding men over 50, who have been employed for years in the high-tech industry, are being shut out, too,” she added. “Many of them are now going into consulting after being laid off because they can’t find another similar-type job.”
Clients first meet with Allen for a free one-on-one consultation so that she may assess the best way to help them. She can then connect them with “subject matter experts,” such as attorneys, accountants, and marketing professionals, who can further assist them.
The center will also offer classes at the new location in a variety of subjects such as intellectual property, patents, crowd funding and Quick Books.
“Perhaps someone needs a refresher on a skill or would like to learn a new one,” Allen said. “These classes offer them the chance to learn these in a small, comfortable environment.”
Other classes held on occasion, on topics such as resume-writing or interviewing, can help the client going through a job transition stage, she added. Some of the classes are free, while others are in the $20-$30 range. Scholarships are available for some classes as well.
“We will work with those in financial need,” Allen said. “We never turn anyone away for not being able to pay.”
The center will also be offering morning networking events that are open to all, men and women.
CWE is a resource partner of the Small Business Association (SBA) and as such, receives some funding from it.
Allen noted that the reception from Westborough officials has been warm and welcoming.
“We are so glad to be here in Westborough. We encourage anyone who would like to know more about us to check us out,” she said.