November 6, 2020, New London, Connecticut — After a successful six-month pilot program, the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) received second-phase funding to continue its Blue Stream program, a customized training program for military spouses and entrepreneurs relocating to Connecticut.
This initiative was launched in part to respond to the national and local issue of military spouse unemployment. With military spouses facing 24% unemployment and 31-51% underemployment, WBDC recognized the critical need to support these populations in its backyard of New London County—home to more than 5,000 military spouses and thousands more embedded within the Blue Economy.
Launched earlier this year, the innovative Blue Steam program is a multi-phase project offered by WBDC in conjunction with CTNext and the Thames River Innovation Place (TRIP) that offers a customized curriculum catered to individuals that are mobile due to being a trailing spouse.
The Blue Stream program helps to support entrepreneurial ambitions of those who relocate and for whom traditional jobs do not provide an effective professional trajectory by offering group training sessions and individualized coaching led by WBDC business advisors, as well as microgrant programs to invest in business creation and capital necessities. Current clients include spouses of service members and employees of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and General Dynamics.
“We are grateful to TRIP for the opportunity to continue cultivating the current and prospective entrepreneurs of our military base,” shares WBDC Program Coordinator Angela Engle. “In these last six months, our team has worked directly with Blue Stream participants to develop the skills they need for business, career transitioning, and to foster the networks they need to move forward.”
Blue Stream has been successful in building regional partnerships in the military community and garnering widespread visibility across social media. Its work has resulted in 55 attendees served through 15 new on-demand programs, live training, and one-on-one counseling. These accomplishments resulted in 14 businesses launched or scaled, 17 jobs created or maintained, and $31,000 invested in grants and self-funding. Additionally, WBDC has achieved national recognition for entrepreneurial excellence in 2020 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“We are thrilled to see early efforts to cultivate these embedded entrepreneurs result in impactful progress even while working in the context of COVID-19,” said WBDC Program Manager, Laura Stetler. “There’s more we can do now in the next year to position the region to become known for supporting the ambitions of entire families brought to the area through the Blue Economy.”
WBDC hopes to continue the program’s early success and momentum by setting ambitious goals for phase two. These include doubling the eLibrary for on-demand learning, awarding Opportunity Fund microgrants to at least three businesses, and hosting live training events on December 8, 2020, January 19, 2021, and February 16, 2021.
For those interested in the program, please visit ctwbdc.org/blue-stream to learn more and register for the program, or contact Blue Stream program specialists directly:
About the Women’s Business Development Council
The Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC) mission is to support economic prosperity for women and strengthen communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services that create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut. WBDC educates, motivates and empowers women to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. Whether a client is starting or growing a business, WBDC drives business success in a tangible and accessible way by engaging clients with access to education, markets, and capital. Now in its third decade, WBDC has educated and assisted more than 14,000 clients to launch and scale over 5,900 businesses. In their pursuit of economic independence, these women have created and maintained over 8,100 jobs in Connecticut. Visit ctwbdc.org for more information.