Program Promotes Ideas For Businesses

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An online health store, a Web site for virtual tours of Rim Country, an arts and crafts Web site, a traveling computer repair service and a place to order a 10,000-gallon water tank are all ideas for businesses that might soon come to Payson.

A business management class at the local community college just might provide students the information and education to accomplish that, and even provide a job or two for the local work force.

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Small business management student, Chris Scalzi, used Barbara MacKenzie's SBM 201 class to develop a plan for a new business he hopes to open in Payson.

The ideas came from the fertile minds of students at the Payson campus of Gila Community College where Barbara MacKenzie teaches small business management and where she is also a career counselor with the college's Work force Readiness Academy.

One of the first things she requires of the students in her 16-week SBM 201 class is to come up with a realistic idea for a small business.

She said the class goes all the way from the idea stage to getting a business ready to open.

Students identify markets and competition, develop business plans and budgets and go through the steps involved in developing Web-based businesses.

"What the class offers is what you need personally to get a business off the ground," MacKenzie said.

Her students agree.

Chris Scalzi said he was looking for a different career path and may have found it in MacKenzie's class.

Water Storage Solutions is his small business idea. But it isn't just an idea anymore.

After taking the class, he has decided to actually push himself to open the business.

He said if Water Storage Solutions proves successful, he might have to hire additional help, meaning jobs for the Payson work force.

Past water shortages in Rim Country communities prompted him to choose the idea of providing area residents an outlet to buy 100-gallon to 10,000-gallon water storage tanks.

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Barbara MacKenzie (right), small business management teacher at the Payson campus of Gila Community College, teaches her students how to go from the idea stage to getting a business ready to open.

"There isn't anyplace in Payson or Rim Country where you can buy storage tanks that size," he said. "As far as I know, the only place to get them is back east."

"Instead of having to order one themselves and waiting weeks for it to arrive, (area residents) would be able to buy one locally," he said.

Scalzi said if all goes well, he might open Water Storage Solutions as early as this summer.

He said had he not taken the class, he may not have come up with the idea.

"It wasn't my intention to go into the water storage business, the whole idea was generated by the class," said Scalzi.

He said that before he took MacKenzie's class he was working at an antique shop and wanted to find his niche in life, but was unsure where to look.

"She (MacKenzie) told me to come up with something the community needed and start from there," he said.

Scalzi is not the only student in the class who is using what MacKenzie teaches to open a real business.

Chancy Nutt said she is working on a nutrition-related Web site to bring in extra income while she works toward a degree in accounting.

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Chancy Nutt plans to open a health-related Web site. She said Gila Community College instructor Barbara MacKenzie's small business management class was instrumental in helping her.

"It would be a conglomerate of health nutrition products like essential oils, vitamins and natural products to enhance people's health and quality of life," Nutt said.

She said the class helped her "gel" the idea in her head and take it to the level of actually developing the Web site.

"This class helps develop any business idea," she said. "It is a real how-to class."

Sarah Taylor is using that how-to education to get her arts and crafts Web business going.

Her online store, Knit'ch-n-Stitch, will feature things like knitting supplies and other crafts-related items.

Taylor said she had the idea before she took MacKenzie's class, but she didn't have a good business plan and doubts it would have succeeded before.

"I didn't have enough planning before, now I am sure I can get my foot in the door and make it work," she said.

Last week MacKenzie said that Taylor would probably have her LLC (Limited Liability Corporation license) very soon.

"I think she will be publishing it in the paper within a week or so," said MacKenzie.

Another student in her class is already using his new-found knowledge to move forward in life.

Stephen Sheehan, 22, said the class also prompted him to take his already existing traveling computer service to another level.

Sheehan said he is already getting customers and making income on his idea.

"Some of what I offer right now is PC clean-up, software installation and upgrades for things like video cards," said Sheehan.

He said that all of his business comes from word-of-mouth so far, but hopes what he has learned will help expand his customer base.

He said if it does begin to take off, he could hire another computer technician or two, providing possible future jobs in Rim Country.

"I want to go into business at the next level as quick as I can," said Sheehan.

Regardless of whether the students stay in Payson or go on to other places, at least one said that what he learned in the class would help him succeed.

"The class has given me confidence that I can own my own business as a primary income source and make it work," Sheehan said.

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