Popular handmade and vintage vendor Etsy has recently announced that they are embarking on a new venture – free small business classes. That’s right, Etsy is launching a new series of entrepreneurial courses, completely free of cost. This amazing opportunity is starting in Rockford, Illinois, a city that once had a booming economy but has struggled in recent years. While the program was sparked by a Twitter exchange between the mayor of Rockford and Etsy’s CEO, Etsy is hoping to expand their program if its services are successful. Perhaps your city will be next.
Etsy & Rockford, Illinois
Etsy has a strong online economy, with a reported $900 million in sales during 2012. In Rockford, Illinois, however, the economy is not doing so well. Once a hub of manufacturing, Rockford’s economy has suffered since their largest employers left the city. Rockford now has an unemployment rate of 11.4%. The mayor of Rockford, Larry Morrissey, decided to take this problem into his own hands – he tweeted at Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy: “Since we need an ‘Etsy Economy’ has Etsy begun any partnerships with high schools or job training? We’d love to explore.” Etsy responded enthusiastically, sending a team to discuss Rockford’s needs.
From Crafters to Entrepreneurs
The program that Etsy developed for Rockford is called the Craft Entrepreneurship Curriculum. Because of Rockford’s history as a manufacturing city, many of its residents have skills such as cabinet making, pottery, printmaking, and jewelry making. Etsy’s goal is to show residents of Rockford how they can take their crafty skills and turn them into supplemental income. While Etsy does not expect every student they work with to become a seller on Etsy or be able to completely support themselves on this income, they do believe that with this partnership, the Rockford economy and workforce will grow and develop.
Plans for the Future
If the program in Rockford proves successful, Etsy hopes to bring their entrepreneurial curriculum to other cities. They already have plans to bring their classes to New York City, and they are currently discussing other possibilities. Many other cities have also already started inquiring about Etsy’s program and how it could help their economy, too. While it is unlikely that Etsy will be able to turn every student into an entrepreneur, this is an innovative idea for stimulating the many suffering local economies across the U.S.
Will you take advantage of Etsy’s courses if they come to your city?
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