Bill to aid startups has roots in SLO

A bill before Congress aimed at increasing self-employment training programs for entrepreneurs and small-business startups through local Workforce Investment Boards originated at the Mission Community Services Corp.’s Women’s Business Center in San Luis Obispo.

David Ryal, program director of the centers in San Luis Obispo, Kern and Monterey counties, said he brought the idea of the Entrepreneurial Training Improvement Act of 2012, to the attention of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, after growing frustrated by the rules discouraging Workforce Investment Boards from offering such training services.

“As a director of an economic development non-profit that runs a small-business center, I have seen many displaced workers and returning veterans actively seeking alternative employment, yet struggle to get support for entrepreneurial training through a Career One-Stop Center,” Ryal said.

“Looking for a solution, I brought the issue to Congresswoman Capps, who immediately took up the cause.

“The Entrepreneurial Training Improvement Act is the product of these efforts and has my full support,” he added.

Capps recently introduced the bill, saying the legislation would ensure that Central Coast entrepreneurs “have access to the resources they need to start their own businesses, create jobs and help our economy grow.”

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Labor to establish alternative guidelines specifically for measuring the progress of entrepreneurial training programs, adjusting federal regulations to better reflect the realities of self-employment and make it easier for Workforce Investment Boards to offer these programs, according to a statement by Capps’ office.

Ryal said that based on the local economy, “it was obvious that we have more people out of work than there were jobs to fill. Many have professional and vocational skills that really didn’t match the jobs available in the county.”

Displaced workers, he said, are sent to the Career One-Stop program, which is encouraged to support entrepreneurship. In reality, few of the One-Stop Centers do so because they are unable to “track self-employment clients the way they can track regular employment,” he said.

“If the One-Stop can’t track and document, they don’t get reimbursed for the services they provide,” Ryal added. “Thus, the bill allows a new set of milestones to be developed for self-employment, for example: writing a business plan, getting a business license and fictitious business name statement, launching a website and making a first sale or getting a first contract. Down the road are sales increasing.”