Kimco’s new business boot camps give entrepreneurs basic business training
Kimco has long been in the corner of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our latest major initiative to support them is our Kimco’s KEYS program, which we launched in May 2012. Our KEYS business incubator program gives participants one year of free rent at any of the 100+ Kimco properties in California participating in the program. We also provide a series of educational resources and other assistance with business planning, site selection, permitting, and more.
Our KEYS program has been turning the heads of many entrepreneurs and first-time business owners over the past several months. We’ve received numerous inquiries from potential participants, and things are moving forward with those who are qualified for the program.
But our support hasn’t ended there. We’ve now added a new feature to KEYS, which we’ve dubbed the “Kimco SBDC Boot Camp Program.” These boot camps are intensive, three-day training programs for anyone who wants to learn how to write a business plan and open their first retail store or restaurant.
We’re providing the boot camps in collaboration with six local Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in California — one in Sacramento, one in San Diego, two in San Francisco, and two in Los Angeles. There are hundreds of SBDCs nationwide, all of which provide professional and technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The goal of our business boot camps is two-fold. First, we want to provide a solid, inexpensive source of training for entrepreneurs who are about to set up shop. (Boot camps are $50 a person.)
Second, we want to accelerate leasing. Our business boot camps, and KEYS program, lets us educate entrepreneurs about the opportunities for them to successfully run their business in a Kimco shopping center. At the same time, we can gain crucial insight into their business plans to determine whether they’re a good fit for a location in our portfolio, and help them find that ideal location.
So far, we’re in the pilot phase of our business boot camps. Earlier this year, we started working with the six SBDCs I mentioned earlier to design the boot camps. The curriculum we developed has participants coming in one day a week to their local SBDC for three weeks. Each class runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Six to eight instructors teach during the entire boot camp, including SBDC instructors, local business professionals, and local college educators. The instructors cover all the need-to-know aspects of successfully getting a small business off the ground, so our boot camps are ideal for entrepreneurs who have little to no business experience.
Some of the major topics covered include licenses and other legal matters, site location, business plan development, conducting market research, gaining competitive intelligence, product pricing, financing, small business loans, mapping out operating costs, hiring, and marketing and advertising, to name a handful. A Kimco representative also comes in the first day of class to cover how KEYS works and what participants can gain from it.
We started our first classes in October with many filling to capacity — about 30 students — in short order. All six SBDC campuses have now graduated or will soon be graduating their students. We hold a graduation ceremony and give students certificates affirming they’ve completed the boot camp. Upon completion, we’ll help qualified, interested participants get started with our KEYS program.
All in all, our business boot camps have been running smoothly, and several participants have told us they appreciated the program very much. We’ve been collecting this and other feedback from participants, and will be incorporating it into our second round of boot camps, which we’re planning to begin in mid-January. We’re hoping to expand our boot camps nationally after completing our pilot program in California. We’ll keep you updated on our progress on our blog.
The press has been covering our boot camps and some have profiled a few of the participants. If you’d like to read about it, click over to the coverage from CBS Sacramento and Sacramento Business Journal.
And if you’re interested in more information on KEYS and our business boot camps, you can visit our Kimco KEYS webpage.