Entrepreneurs Graduate Program Ready To Go Into Business

By Roger Phillips
The Record, Stockton, Calif.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several budding entrepreneurs in Stockton are ready to get their businesses off the ground. After participating in a nine-week, 27-hour program offered by the DSA and run by Centro Community Partners, the locals learned how to start their own businesses.


Lore and Ray Romero plan to open a coffee shop on the border of Stockton and Linden where visitors can stop for a snack and young people can do their school assignments in dedicated work space.

Salina Acosta is going to open a bakery, and Destiny Oliphant will establish a spa. Kirk Williams is developing a product to aid the world’s bees.

Uniting this disparate group and several others the past few months was an entrepreneurship seminar hosted by the Downtown Stockton Alliance.

The locals are learning how to start their own businesses through a nine-week, 27-hour program offered by the DSA and run by Centro Community Partners, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization.

“At the end of nine weeks, the goal is to have them have a fundable business plan where they have access to capital and will be presenting to their peers,” Gustavo Noriega, founder of Centro, said before the first cohort of budding entrepreneurs began classes late last year.

The DSA’s Cindi Fargo said the purpose is to give aspiring merchants the know-how to get started in the hope that Stockton residents will establish new businesses and build the local economy.

Two cohorts of entrepreneurship students have completed classes. Some of the students received certificates at a downtown celebration Thursday afternoon. Here are a few of their stories.
The Romeros

“This will be her business, and I will be the helper there for her,” Ray Romero, 57, said as he stood beside his 46-year-old wife, Lore. “I used to be a maintenance worker. You get to a certain age, you want to do something less stressful.”

A resource room will make the Romeros’ shop special. Lore said that in addition to Wi-Fi, it will provide fax machines, meeting space, a conference room and homework help for students.

There also will be reading material for young and old, Lore said.

“When we entered into talking about the business, … (the DSA class) helped us get the tools we needed as well as resources to get our licenses as well as loans,” Lore Romero said.

Acosta’s bakery
Salina Acosta wasn’t going to take the class, but she decided to do so to support a friend who had signed up.

The friend, who also received a certificate this week, is enduring a personal loss and was too emotional to speak Thursday. Mirna Juarez with the alliance said the woman wants to start a business providing personalized gifts to those also suffering from losses.

While taking the class, the 44-year-old Acosta decided she is going to open a bakery. Acosta became emotional as she discussed her decision.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything out of this class, because I wasn’t thinking outside of the box,” Acosta said. “I just decided, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ ”

A date with Destiny
Destiny Oliphant, 30, told the group she is determined to establish a spa whose services will include hair care, makeup and teeth whitening.

“Destiny’s Med Spa is a mirror image of my core values … beauty, health and wellness,” she said. “To me, beauty is being unapologetic for what makes you happy, being confident and also fearless.”

Still, Oliphant admitted the thought of starting her own business is daunting but said the DSA course has “been a great resource.”

Oliphant added, “At one point I think one of the biggest challenges for myself was to hear, ‘No.’ Some people might feel that could be rejection.
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I see that as an opportunity for improvement, and constructive criticism fuels my ambition for success.”

For the love of bees
Kirk Williams, 55, adores bees.

During his presentation, he said that 40 percent of the beehives in California died in 2015 because of infestations of varroa mites, which are present in most of the world.

Williams says he has a solution — a small gadget that tests bees for mites. He plans to sell it for $24.95. According to Williams, his invention can obtain successful test results with only one trip to the hive. He calls it the “Apihive,” is ready to produce it and is looking for investors.

“Moving forward, I hope to connect with someone who is as passionate about bees as I am,” Williams wrote in a brief explanation of his objective. “This way I can continue to innovate and create new products.”

Upcoming classes
The program costs $45, and the start of a third cohort of classes is coming up. It begins May 4 and runs every Thursday through June 29 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of DSA headquarters, 125 Bridge Place in downtown.

For more information, visit or call (209) 888-8621 or (209) 464-5246.

A cohort taught in Spanish is being planned for this summer. For information on the Spanish cohort, call one of the phone numbers and ask for Mirna Juarez. Or email her at [email protected]

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