Picking ourselves up

Project Bootstraps was started in 2010 as an effort to offer the insight local entrepreneurs need to become small business owners.

Those who attended the previous presentations were able to hear from successful owners of area businesses. They talked about the sacrifices and commitment that are required of anyone seeking to be their own boss, but they also talked about the rewards that come with knowing they are able to fill important roles in the region’s economy.

This year’s event. organized by the Christian Students in Free Enterprise and held March 28 in the seminar room of the St. Joseph Center on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, offered a fresh twist on the program. Organizers invited around 40 of the previous presenters for a reunion. The relaxed, meet-and-greet format allowed those who attended to learn from people who have real-world experience.

The lineup of those who were willing to donate their time to be a part of the evening was impressive. There were longtime family businesses represented, as well as those which had just gotten started. Those who owned bakeries, hardware stores, financial and investment firms, florists, restaurants, lawn and garden firms, dry cleaners, cleaning and restoration firms, marketing firms and greenhouses were there, too. It was an impressive group of local business owners, men and women who were willing to share their passion for what they do.

That Project Bootstraps was able to enjoy such an impressive return after a two-year hiatus is a testament to the efforts of Thomas Kelley, business professor at the university and faculty director of the CSFE group, as well as the support of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson County Port Authority and the Herald-Star.

It’s a positive program –and one that can help shape our region’s future for a long time to come.