Kam Gomez is working as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Central Arkansas Library System, researching best practices to help in launching a free co-working space that promotes workforce development and entrepreneurship.
“We're looking to reach women, people of color, and underrepresented populations in access to entrepreneurship,” Gomez said.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Gomez has researched regional entrepreneurship labs since early May. His research includes Dallas Brain (Business Resource and Information Network) with the Dallas Public Library, Square One Small Business with the Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City, and Launch San Antonio which operates as a partnership with the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department.
“They have shown me that our program needs to fit the market in Little Rock,” Gomez said. “We need a deliberate outreach plan. COVID-19 has pretty much stopped operations in all the centers with no digital presence and without remote working capacity.”
Gomez said that workshops and events, remotely or in-person, could play a role in the lab’s future.
He noted that his Clinton School work, specifically Research Methods and Program Planning and Development, has helped him find literature showcasing the work of what’s happening in entrepreneurship labs across the country. These labs include business resources, mentoring, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and even funding education and opportunities.
A graduate of Culver-Stockton College with a degree in business administration, Gomez previously worked with AmeriCorps as an NCCC member responding to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, as well as a VISTA Leader at the United Way of the Piedmont.
Gomez said he was drawn to this project with AmeriCorps because of his interest in economic development which started with an undergraduate internship.
“I really liked what they were doing in developing workforce,” Gomez said of the internship. “That really attracted me based on the influence they had in the city, and the work they were doing, connecting schools and colleges with employers.”
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