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Business Incubator to Open At Santa Clarita Company. Local Entrepreneur Wants to Help Others Reach Success

Patricia Gracia’s latest idea to help businesses weather the economic recession has her beaming with enthusiasm. “Sometimes all people need is a little direction,” she said, walking through dim empty rooms behind her advertising agency Power Media Group’s offices in Santa Clarita. This space, left vacant by a church not long ago, is in the red and white, Spanish style, multiple story house which the company owns on Sierra Highway. It will soon house Power Women Business & Vocational Center, a business incubator where ideas will be developed and nurtured, she said. “The recession is in the minds of people as much as it is in their pockets. The way you feel and the way you think is going to affect how you produce in your business, so we want to help women feel good about what they’re doing.” she said. Gracia, who started the advertising agency in her San Fernando Valley apartment with nothing more than a computer, a fax and a telephone seven years ago, has grown her agency’s annual revenues to upwards of $2.4 million, creating Spanish language campaigns for high-profile clients targeting a booming Hispanic market. Through the new Center, she hopes to offer women entrepreneurs the tools and support to reach similar levels of success. Power Women Business & Vocational Center will serve as an office for those were working from home, she explained. It will be a place to meet with clients in an office or a conference room, and be a work address, instead of a P.O.BOX, for those who need to receive mail. Some 24 cubicles with computers and phones will serve as workstations, and at least four private offices will be available at the new Center. “We’ll paint the walls, make it look very professional,” she said waving her hand across a dirty wall painted orange. “This will be the lobby, we’ll put a nice flat screen TV and maybe a beautiful fish-tank,” she said walking into another room. A showroom at the center will also allow women to display samples of table settings or flower arrangements for clients without the distractions of crying children and cluttered kitchens, for example. More importantly, the center will leverage the resources and know-how of Power Media Group on behalf of the small businesses that come to the center. It will provide training, assist with the developing of business plans and develop new strategies to boost existing businesses. “We want to be their GPS, help them get direction” said Tony Gracia, CEO of Power Media Group and Patricia’s husband, who will lead training sessions on different topics at the center, mostly focusing on improving sales. “Sales and customer service, that’s the key of success,” he added. Among the myriad of other ideas that Gracia has up her sleeve for the center, is the notion of pooling advertising resources. “It’s almost impossible for a small business to be able to pay for advertising on television, or radio or even in a large magazine,” she said. “But if all the members come together and pitch in, I can then use my advertising knowledge and negotiation skills to buy ad space ‘in bulk’ and then divide it up among the small businesses,” she said. The goal is also to help small businesses, who might be on the brink of collapsing under the current economic climate, re-think strategies and revive their business through strategic marketing and advertising campaigns. Patricia also plans to fully promote businesses online through the center’s website. But she won’t do all this for free. Gracia will offer Power Women Business & Vocational Center memberships of $250, $500 and $750 per month, which will grant women entrepreneurs access to the center’s facilities and business consulting services. The membership fee will be a low price to pay in exchange for the support and benefits, said Gracia, especially since the center’s location in Santa Clarita will also be advantageous. “Since the center will be located in the city’s Enterprise Zone, many of the small businesses hosted there may potentially qualify for enterprise zone credits, which constitutes a state income tax savings opportunity,” said Laura Biery, Administrative Analyst with the City of Santa Clarita’s Economic Development Division. Biery welcomed Gracia’s initiative. “The women’s business center will complement our other programs we have in the city very well,” she said. The center will require an initial investment of about $200,000 from Power Media, said Gracia, adding that the goal is to have between 200 and 300 members coming in and out of the Center each month. A firm believer that there is opportunity in economic recession, Gracia will also use the Center to train women to sell Nyx Cosmetics by catalog. Power Media Group recently launched a division to do direct selling of Nyx Cosmetics, betting on studies that show that the direct selling industry thrives when the economy is down. “This will be a great way for women to supplement their income,” she said. Born in Peru, Gracia crossed the border into the United States from Mexico in 1987, when she was 18 years old, with little more than “big dreams.” She became a U.S citizen 15 years ago. “I remember looking north and seeing the lights of California and saying I’m going to get there, I’m going to do big things,” she said. “I owe this country so much; this is my way of giving back.” Power Women Business & Vocational Center will open its doors in about six weeks.

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