Women’s Business Center in Boise can’t raise enough money, closes

The Women’s Business Center, which helped to start more than 75 businesses in the past five years, closed its doors June 30.

The closure is mainly because of trouble the Boise center had raising the cash match required as part of its U.S. Small Business Administration grant.

“A lack of community financial support, organizational gaps, and limited resources have all contributed to the perfect storm of instability for the WBC program,” Director Shari Chatterton said in a letter posted to the center’s website.

The Women’s Business Center offered training, counseling, mentoring and other business resources for women as well as men. The center focused in particular on socially or economically disadvantaged women.

Brown Shuga Soul Food, which operates Southern-cuisine food trucks and catering in the Boise area, is among the businesses the center highlights as success stories.

The first two years of the $150,000 annual SBA grant required the center to raise a 50 percent cash match from the community. But for the past three years, the center was required to raise a 100 percent cash match, or $150,000.

The center has raised those funds in recent years through corporate and individual donations and small fees for services, according to Karan Tucker, executive director of Jannus, the Boise multiservice nonprofit that housed the center. But the Treasure Valley has many nonprofits that competed for community funds, she said.

“We are saddened that it’s closed,” Tucker said.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey