Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program graduates 6th class

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The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program covers business basics and more to help Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs successfully open and operate local businesses. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program covers business basics and more to help Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs successfully open and operate local businesses. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
It's part of Local First Arizona's Spanish-language initiative through its foundation. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) It's part of Local First Arizona's Spanish-language initiative through its foundation. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Esther Garcia says Fuerza Local was one of the main ingredients for the success of her Tolleson business. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Esther Garcia says Fuerza Local was one of the main ingredients for the success of her Tolleson business. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

There are 25 business owners in Phoenix with reason to celebrate. All of them have just graduated from the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program.

"It gets to inspire a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners," Edgar Olivo, the program director said.

The six-month program covers business basics and more to help Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs successfully open and operate local businesses.

It's part of Local First Arizona's Spanish-language initiative through its foundation. 

"All students start off with learning how to write a business plan; we go through the business plan development, business model canvas, then we talk about small business accounting," Olivo said. "We go through the IRS requirements; we go through marketing, social media."

Thursday marked the graduation ceremony for the sixth class to complete the program.

Esther Garcia says Fuerza Local was one of the main ingredients for the success of the Tolleson business she and her husband own -- Popcorn & More.

"There's so much stuff that you have to know to be able to open a business and do it correctly," Garcia said. "It's amazing all the growth and knowledge you get out of it."

The Garcias opened their doors nearly two years ago and for them, it is truly a labor of love.

"Started learning how to make popcorn, and then the different flavors and all the stuff you can do with popcorn and it's just been growing from there," she said.

In fact, they are even talking about expanding now, none of which she says would be possible had it not been for the solid business foundation they created thanks to the program.

"We've seen a profit and also we have more knowledge of the business," said Garcia.

On Thursday, 25 new business owners graduating from the program joined the Garcias' ranks and hope to emulate some of that success.

In total, more than 80 businesses have been created or grown through Fuerza Local.

"From those 80 businesses, we've created 60 jobs and counting. These businesses are still growing and they're still scaling. We've been able to generate almost $1 million of new revenue into the local economy and over $100,000 of donations have been given to local charities from these businesses alone," Olivo said.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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