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Business Resources

Classes, workshops, grants, low-cost loans and other resources to help your business start up, grow and thrive in Vancouver. To request this information or any documents noted below in a different format or language, please contact Julie Arenz, Small Business Project Manager, 360-487-7940, julie.arenz@cityofvancouver.us.

Local Business Workshops, Classes and Education

CREDC and WA APEX Accelerator:

– Bonding & Insurance Capacity Building

Does your industry require bonding? Are you ready to take on larger jobs but are unsure about the many challenges in securing bonding? This is the course for you. Join this FREE online workshop to learn all there is to know about the unseen drivers of bonding, knowing the market, and the tools and resources available to you as a business owner.

– Indirect Costs Rates & the Safe Harbor Program

Do you have questions about Indirect Cost Rates in relation to Government Contracting? Join this event and hear from a CPA specializing in indirect cost rate audit questions and WSDOT’s Safe Harbor Program Audit Specialist. Learn all about WSDOT’s Safe Harbor program, FAR Part 31 compliance and what to expect after graduating.

Workforce SW WA: Boost Your Business. Elevate Employee Recruitment and Retention

Employee turnover is expensive, but the Business Services Team at Workforce SW WA (WSW) can help! WSW has contracted with the human resources experts at Salsbury & Co. to lead a free two-part workshop series to give your company the knowledge and tools to overcome employee recruitment and retention challenges. The two sessions will feature presentations, interactive activities, both small and large group discussions, guided action planning time, and complimentary lunch.

  • 6/5 and 6/12, from 8:30am-4pm. Free, in person series / Register soon.

Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries:  Free English conversation circle at Fourth Plain Forward

Practice speaking English in a group setting, led by a native-speaking volunteer. Library events and programs are open to the public and provided at no cost.

Practique hablar inglés en un grupo, dirigido por un voluntario nativo. Los eventos y programas de la biblioteca están abiertos al público y se brindan sin costo.

  • Every Tuesday from 5:30-7 p.m. at Fourth Plain Forward, 5107 East Fourth Plain Blvd, Suite 111 in Vancouver, WA 98661
  • Learn more / Aprender mas

The Greater Vancouver Chamber: Upcoming in-person events

The Greater Vancouver Chamber is excited to announce upcoming in-person events, providing attendees with invaluable learning and networking opportunities.

Fourth Plain Forward: Business Connect in-person events

Business Connect, offered by Fourth Plain Forward, will be hosting the following in-person events at Fourth Plain Community Commons, 3101 East 4th Plain Boulevard Vancouver, WA 98661, to provide participants with the resources, coaching and advising needed to take the first steps into launching a successful, new business. Please visit the Fourth Plain Forward Events page for more information.

  • 7/10/24 from 5:30-pm. Business Connect: How to Get Money for Your Business. Discover strategies to make your credit profile irresistible to lenders, whether it’s enhancing your personal credit or establishing solid business credit. Delve into practical steps to build a strong personal credit profile and establish business credit.
  • 7/31/24 from 5:30-7pm. Conexión De Negocios: Como Conseguir Dinero Para Su Negocio. Únase con nosotros en ‘Cómo obtener dinero para su negocio’, donde descubrirá estrategias para hacer que su perfil crediticio sea irresistible para los prestamistas, ya sea mejorando su crédito personal o estableciendo un crédito comercial sólido. Profundizaremos en pasos prácticos para construir un perfil crediticio personal sólido y establecer crédito comercial de manera efectiva.

Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber (HMC) provides free monthly workshops

The Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber (HMC) was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) with a mission to lead the economic advancement, wealth creation and equity for Latinos in Oregon and SW Washington. Their vision is to close the Latino economic equity gap and to create intergenerational wealth. HMC’s business development team offers free and confidential technical assistance in Spanish and English to business owners, as well as monthly workshops.

MESO provides free/low-cost Business Education

MESO provides virtual business classes and workshops in English and in Spanish that focus on the foundational elements of running a small business. Learn more about their current offerings and how to sign up.

WSU-Vancouver PACE Program offers online certificate courses

The PACE Program at WSU-Vancouver, with 3-4 weeklong courses, offers 50-75% discounts for employees of small businesses and non-profits. Evening classes are held twice per week in live, online, and in person formats.

Spring 2024 courses include the below, along with Registration and details:

  • Leading with Finance, QuickBooks, and Business Analytics with Power BI
  • Change Management, Business Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution and Leadership Essentials
  • Social Media Marketing, Applied Machine Learning, Python for Beginners, Intro to SQL and Interfacing with SQL

SCORE provides free/low-cost Business Education

SCORE provides business local and virtual workshops and targeted training that matter to you and your small business. Learn more about their current offerings and discover more here.

Portland Community College’s SBDC offers Training Programs

Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been helping entrepreneurs build businesses for 40 years. Start, grow, or rebuild your business confidently with support from these specialized business training programs. 

  • Business Builders 12-week training program. Blends 8 weeks of foundational business educations with 4 weeks of specialized industry learning so you can start, grow and thrive.
  • Buying & Selling Outside the U.S. 6-week series. Learn to thrive in the global marketplace. Become familiar with import/export regulations, supply chain management, cultural awareness, and more.

State Business Workshops, Classes and Education

Small Business Requirements and Resources (SBRR) offers free workshops for Small Business

The Small Business Liaison Team (SBLT) is a partnership between 29 state agencies working together with local economic development partners to support and connect with business owners in offering free business education. The Small Business Requirements and Resources (SBRR) offer free workshops with essential information and resources to help start and grow your business These events are sponsored by the Small Business Liaison Team and hosted by various partners. 

  • 8/7/24 from 9am-10am. How to Start a Business in WA State: Free webinar

Scale-Up online training program: $1599 cost waived for WA Businesses

Start 2024 with a Growth Mindset. This online program normally costs $1,599 but will be provided at no cost to Washington State businesses through June 30, 2025, with funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

ScaleUp is an online training program that empowers established businesses to take growth into their own hands. The nine-week program consists of instructor lead virtual training sessions, online learning modules, and access to a social media networking platform that facilitates interactions between business owners and business experts. The program is most beneficial for established business owners with two or more years’ experience owning and operating a small business who are currently based in Washington state.

Oregon MBDA offers free/low-cost Business Education

The Oregon Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), managed and operated by Business Impact NW, is dedicated to serving underbanked entrepreneurs.  Their goal is to assist minority businesses who are seeking growth opportunities with consulting, business training, contracting and business development. Learn more about their current virtual offerings and how to sign up.

WA State Dept. of Revenue: Learn tax incentives, deductions, credits, and programs

Understanding tax obligations can be challenging for a small business or a new business owner.  DOR has several educational resources aimed at assisting businesses with tax reporting responsibilities and questions.

WA Department of Enterprise Services (DES): Want to do business with the State?

State agencies are actively seeking to spend money with small, diverse, and veteran-owned Washington businesses. Learn more from WA State DES.

Resources to help you get started with state contracting:

Stay informed and subscribe to the monthly email bulletin for small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses.

WA State Department of Labor & Industries: Free workshops and webinars

WA State Department of L&I is a state agency dedicated to the safety, health, and security of Washington’s 3.3 million workers. Here is a combined list of all the workshops, events and webinars that L&I offers. Search, sort and filter the list to find what pertains to you. Learn more about their free/low-cost virtual and in-person educational events.

National Business Workshops, Classes and Education

SBA offers free Wednesday Webinars, free SBA 101 Program, and More

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is celebrating 70 years of service. To honor this occasion, the SBA Seattle District Office invites Washington State business owners to join them for free Wednesday Webinars focused on exporting, government contracting, and finding funding for your small business.

You may also join SBA 101: Overview of SBA Programs to learn more about programs for small business, free counseling, access to business capital, contracting with the federal government and how to incorporate these free resources into your small business journey. This free webinar takes place virtually once a month, on the third Tuesday of each month from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

SBA offers free webinars to start, grow, or expand your Small Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a U.S. government agency that offers online tools, training programs, one-on-one counseling services and funding to help small business owners start and grow businesses. The SBA Portland District Office invites business owners and aspiring owners to join them for webinars focused on starting, growing, or expanding your small business. Whether you’re starting a business, growing a business, or in recovery mode, the SBA can offer guidance with their free education, Resource Partner Network, loan programs, government contracting, certifications, and more. Learn more about their free/low-cost virtual and in-person educational events.

SBA Learning Center: Free online Business Courses

SBA’s online learning programs are designed to empower and educate small business owners every step of the way. Whether you’re looking to start a small business or expand your current one, SBA’s digital learning platform has everything you need to educate yourself on entrepreneurial best practices and available financing options.

Main Street America partners with Grow with Google to offer free workshops

Main Street America and Grow with Google have teamed up to help business owners gain new skills through local Digital Coaches. Through the Grow with Google Digital Coaches program, 10 coaches in small towns across America are offering free live trainings and hands-on coaching. No matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, your local Digital Coach can help you build skills to take the next step for your business.

Helpful Guides

Small Business Guide: This Small Business Guide is broken into six sections, based on your stage of business.  Whether you are starting your business, managing a new business, or expanding your business, you will find valuable information and resources. The business guide is accessible online, and it’s also available in PDF to use as a printed reference manual.  The PDF is available English, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Samoan, Somali, Tagalog and two volumes in Braille Ready Format. The Business Guide includes sections that will help you plan, run, grow, or close a business in Washington State.

Evergreen BizLink offers Startup Guides and Growth Guides. Find a perfect guide for your business.

Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA): offers an Information Center (IC) Team as a free customer service center available by phone, text, chat and email. It’s a great place for entrepreneurs and small businesses to ask questions regarding starting or operating a business. The IC Team of professionals are friendly, expert researchers, and eager to provide information and connect you with programs, training, and resources to help you achieve your business goals. 

  • Example of customer requests: helping an entrepreneur understand the requirements for owning and operating an auto body business, or putting a farmer in touch with the correct regulatory staff to determine if a piece of property has water rights, and connecting a small business owner wanting to start biodiesel production with regulators and safety officials.

Starting a Non-Profit in WA State: The Nonprofit Association of Washington (NAWA) partners with a powerful network of nonprofit organizations across Washington State to learn, advocate, and collaborate, so that nonprofits can achieve their missions. Sometimes a single learning session is just what you need to get started. Popular webinars include QuickBooks Made Easy, Boards and Governance Leadership Training and more. Find your non-profit session in their event calendar.

Craft3: Free Guide to Help You Become “Loan Ready.” Find everything you need to know to apply for a business loan, along with other resources to help you prepare for loan application. If you’ve considered applying for a business loan but aren’t sure of the process or what a lender will ask for, then the Definitive Guide to Getting Loan Ready is for you.

Business Impact NW: Their Loan Readiness Center offers free tailored advice and business loan training to help entrepreneurs from underserved communities learn how to access funding to help start and grow their business. And when you’re ready to talk with an advisor who can support you and help point you in the right direction, reach out for one-on-one business coaching.

Watch: Spotlight on small business