Three Local Programs You Must Know

local and regional services for job hunters and entrepreneurs

Heather Mawhiney

1. Career Services at UWEC
    Offers career counseling for community members ($55), alumni ($45), and students (FREE) • Career counseling is an opportunity to work individually with a career counselor with all aspects of the career search process. A career counselor can provide you with an assessment of your skills, interests, values, and personality as well as help people adapting to fit new technologies. A career counselor can be for a student trying to figure out what they want to do when they graduate, graduates looking to maximize their potential, people looking to make a career switch later in life, or for those recently laid off and looking to become more valuable or reassess their skills to apply them to a new industry.

2. Jump-Start Downtown
    Jump-Start is a competition for entrepreneurs looking to open a business or relocate an existing business to downtown Eau Claire. Though open to any type of business, participants must be 18 years or older to compete. Grand prize winners receive $5,000 in start-up capital and $500 of TV airtime. Applications must include a business plan of the proposed business to Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. This year’s competition closed on May 31, but start planning for next year! The 2009 award ceremony will be held August 6. Past winners include Cadeaux, Isabelle & Co., Becki’s Mediterranean Olive Salsa, Diamond School of Dance, Dessert First, Willow Creek Women’s Clinic, Body Focus, Just Local Food Cooperative, and Café 420.

3. SMARTT Network
    When it comes to looking for a job, there are several ways to get your name out there. One new option is through the Smartt Network, an online talent recruitment database that connects talent to career-, business-, and technology-based opportunities in western Wisconsin.  “It’s a confidential skills database, where you can market your skills,” said Brian Doudna, executive director of the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation. “So if you think you are underemployed or are looking for that next opportunity or seeking advancement, you can market your skills on the Smartt Network through a skills résumé.”  Since its development last December, Smartt already has more than 1,500 talent profiles, which local companies can search in order to find people that meet the skill sets they require.  Getting plugged into the network is simple: all you need to do is create a free profile on the website, listing all the types of industries you’ve worked in, the duties you performed, and the skills you acquired as well as the level of education you’ve completed. This is all done without your name (until you decide to share it). Then, companies as diverse as Luther Midelfort, Xcel Energy, State Farm Insurance, Hutchinson, KRM Information, and Phillips Plastics can contact you through the site and you can choose to respond with your name and contact information. With your profile, you also have access to free newsletters and email updates on the job market.  Designed to be user-friendly for businesses as well, the Smartt Network is beneficial for employers and entrepreneurs. Potential employers pay for a subscription to the Network to access talent profiles. But the Smartt Network is also designed to grow companies and build name and brand recognition across the region. Check out the Smartt Network at

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