Ice House Program completes pilot course

ST. PETERSBURG – Family, friends and supporters gathered at Eckerd College’s Continuing Education Center to honor the nine graduates of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Training course earlier this summer.

Four teams made polished and professional presentations of their start-up business ideas and plans. Carl Lavender, representing the 2020 Plan, gave a wonderful talk, encouraging all to seek and reach their dreams of prosperity for themselves, their families and community. There were loud cheers and big smiles as each of the nine graduates, six of whom live and work in the Midtown area, received their diplomas and talked of their plans for the future.

The eight-week evening course was held at the St. Petersburg Campus of Pinellas Technical College, thanks to the generosity of Director Boe Norwood and Lavender. Other sponsors included the Greenhouse, a joint venture with City of St. Petersburg and Chamber of Commerce to promote/support new business ventures and the Black Business Investment Corp. that recently opened a support office on the 22nd Street Corridor.

The curriculum is an exciting combination of class presentation and discussion, video clips of real, current entrepreneurs with their stories and lessons and successful, local entrepreneurs.

The program would like to thank Kevin and Antwaun Wells of Wells Construction, Judy Leppanen of Seaside Massage and Toriano Parker of Parker Services for their helpful and inspiring stories.

The companion text, “Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur,” served as an inspiration to participants. It details the entrepreneurial efforts of Uncle Cleve, a man who supplied ice to homes, business and field crews in the Mississippi Delta during the late 1950s and his nephew apprentice named Clifton.

Based on his own life experience, Pulitzer nominee Clifton Taulbert chronicles his lessons in business from his uncle and the process of becoming a successful business owner himself.

All agreed that the Ice House course is a success and that it provides valuable information and motivation to anyone dreaming about or hoping to start or expand their own business.

“This course is important for everyone, especially young people and those nearing retirement, to have ‘starting my own business’ on their list of real, possible careers. Businesses can be started without fancy degrees, large sums of money or family contacts – it only requires an I-can-do-it mindset, the initiative to get out there and find customers who will pay you to solve their problems, then the persistence to find and sell the solution to them and others. Almost anyone can do it,” said Ice House facilitator Dick Pierce.

The next courses will be held in mid-January and mid-March. Contact for information and enrollment.

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