GAINESVILLE, Fla., July 16, 2014 — Two months following the opening of Gainesville Housing Authority’s (GHA’s) resident-operated Eastside Pop Shop, owner John Harris reflects on the successes and challenges of owning a business, and previews what lies ahead.
Harris started his business by enrolling in GHA’s Job Training & Entrepreneurial Program (JTEP) in March 2014. The program, initiated in 2012, assists Public Housing residents and Housing Choice Voucher participants in attaining self-sufficiency by providing resources to continue education, find employment, and start businesses.
After being informed about the availability of the shop’s location during a meeting, Harris worked with the JTEP Coordinator to create a business name, obtain necessary licensing, and coordinate inventory.
Thus far, the burgeoning entrepreneur says that while he is still making only a modest profit, business is increasing and customers appreciate his presence in the community. He notes that he has served more than 100 individuals and enjoys providing affordable goods to them.
Prior to opening, Harris attended a small business workshop offered by Gainesville Regional Utilities, which he says taught him a lot about professional development and customer service.
One problem that he faces, however, is marketing. Harris imagines that his store traffic could be much higher if he had large exterior signs and business cards, and he utilized the Internet.
Still, Harris maintains a positive outlook and is focusing on expanding his role in the community. Within a year from now, he says, “I want to set my business up to not just work for myself, but to give others the opportunity, too.
“I’m building this business so when I get ready to hire somebody and I have a bigger convenience store, this small store teaches me a lot about growth and ordering inventory, and how a store needs to be run.”
About Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA)
Since 1966, Gainesville Housing Authority has advocated for and provided affordable housing for eligible individuals and families. GHA works closely with the U.S. Department of HUD, the City of Gainesville, and area agencies and organizations. Strategic collaborations allow the organization to provide many services and opportunities to residents and the entire community. GHA aims to help residents achieve self-sufficiency by building their own wealth they move out of public housing.
About Job Training and Entrepreneurial Program (JTEP)
Launched in April 2012, Gainesville Housing Authority’s JTEP was designed for public housing residents and Section 8 participants to provide individuals facing economic adversity with opportunities to gain valuable skills and experience in order to become self-sufficient and obtain financial security.
Malachi Gordon, Marketing Coordinator
Gainesville Housing Authority
(352) 872-5500 ext. 237
malachig [at] gnvha.org
Regla Exavier, JTEP Coordinator
Gainesville Housing Authority
(352) 872-5500 ext. 223
reglae [at] gnvha.org