LAS VEGAS -- Small business owners and the unemployed continue to struggle to stay afloat in the weak economy.
Others, however, are thriving, thanks in part to a free business course offered by Clark County.
The county trains small business owners, who in turn occasionally win contract work with the county.
Las Vegas company 1 Sun Solar Electric, for example, will next week begin installing energy-efficient lights at Robert Price Park, 2050 Bonnie Lane near Lake Mead Boulevard. The job is keeping employees busy with the boost.
Owner Louise Helton said she wears a lot of hats at 1 Sun Solar Electric.
"I'm a small business owner," she said. "Technically, I'm the vice president, but I'm also in charge of cleaning the toilets."
The company is a full-service electrical contractor with solar as its specialty.
"We tripled our business since last year -- in this tough economy, in this difficult industry," Helton said.
She credited the Clark County Business Opportunity and Workforce Development Program with helping the company shine.
Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said he has seen small business grow in the county.
"We have been able to see so many small businesses procure contracts, win bids and start flourishing and creating jobs here in Clark County," he said.
Small business owners from a variety of fields are networking and learning about commerce.
"To me, it's an amazing project for small businesses, because small businesses in Nevada sometimes have a difficult time breaking into (and) getting some of these larger projects," said Allison Copening of Copening Consulting and Creative.
Course instructor Tom Akers said the program is in its fifth year. The curriculum includes marketing, sales, capacity building and connecting to other partners who can buy their goods and services.
"What's critical to this program, we connect these local small businesses to those individuals inside of Clark County," he said. "They meet them, they build that relationship, and hopefully with a little bit of luck it turns into a long term relationship."
He said 65 businesses are enrolled in the current series and another 65 are expected to start in January. The plan, he said, is to graduate more than 200 this year with an additional goal for the companies to hire 250 unemployed workers.
The program is free to small businesses. For more information, call the county at 702-724-1500.
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