Over the last few years, the Rail City has slowly been growing as an ideal location for small start-up businesses. In 2009, BusinessWeek ranked Sparks the top city in Nevada to start a small business.
Small business owner Jason Evanchak has lived in Sparks for 22 years and has a growing commercial real estate business. This past year Evanchak said he decided to get more involved with other Sparks business owners through 39 North Downtown, a non-profit group of small business owners and residents dedicated to revitalizing downtown Sparks.
Evanchak brought an idea to the group to create a small business symposium where local Sparks business owners might connect, and now that idea is in its formative stages.
For Evanchak, the 39 North group has sparked inspiration not only to reach his personal business goals but to create a web of economic and social relationships that benefit the entire Sparks’ community.
“There’s a lot of energy in this group,” Evanchak said, “As a small business owner myself, I am always looking for opportunities. The area is growing, and I wanted to bring awareness to small and medium business owners that we want to have professional teams to help with coaching, financing, advertising, marketing, QuickBooks, decorating, designing through this symposium. We want to give them something tangible to bring back to their business – different ideas.”
Evanchak and his family live in downtown Sparks and he said he can see the idea of connecting local businesses and building a vibrant downtown coming together but more needs to be done. Evanchak said he believes a symposium hosted by 39 North Downtown will be the perfect venue for business owners to discuss improving the community and receive the right resources on topics that are important to them.
“We can connect what’s happening in Sparks to what has a regional effect, and use this group as a grass-roots place for business owners,” Evanchak said, ““Small and medium sized business owners just need a little bit of help. But how do you connect with others? If I can help people who are coming into town, I want to do that and this group is the right avenue to do that.”
While the idea is still in its formative stage, Evanchak said it may center around break out sessions that cover social media, website design, managing an online brand as well as providing information and services that would help small businesses grow.
Kristopher Dahir, a founding member of 39 North Downtown, said that the seed form of Evanchak’s idea will begin at the next 39 North Downtown meeting. Dahir said the group has invited experts to address interested small business owners on how to develop or strengthen a presence on social media.
Evanchak said exposure to other small businesses would help provide peer support, and the educational programs would allow small businesses to cultivate and improve on skills necessary to increase efficiency, productivity and growth in the Rail City.
Dahir said the symposium would bring in professionals within the business community.
“We have professionals in the community who will come in and give their time and it’s just a matter of organizing it,” Dahir said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for local business in Sparks.”
Part of the initial plan, said Evanchak, is to canvas the area for businesses in Sparks. Once various businesses are identified, the symposium will be introduced to a larger audience of business owners.
“This really is the place to be,” Evanchak said. “This summer 39 North Marketplace gave us a taste of what this group can do,” referring to the marketplace summer event that brought local artisans, musicians, farmers and vendors to Victorian Square.
“Look what a little bit of vision got us. People were willing to carry through and implement it. It is happening here.”