From layoff to entrepreneur in Toledo

Report by Lauren Lowrey - email | bio

(WTOL) - Every year, thousands of Ohioans decide to start their own business becoming not only an employer, but an entrepreneur.

It may look like a regular mower, but for Roland Richardson, it's put food on the table for the last three years. "I've cut a lot of yards with just this mower," said Robinson

At the age of 55, he knew he wouldn't be employed much longer as an accountant, and he decided to take an early retirement. The funds would only cover his mortgage, and not all the other expenses.

So Richardson started hunting for something he could do himself. That's how MP & Sons Landscaping business took shape. MP stands fort meat and potatoes since that's what the business does for him is put the meat and potatoes on the table. "I had 25 years of experience experimenting on my own lawn, and I figured I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the reward of sitting back and looking at my nice green lawn. Why not do that?"

After a year in business, Roland came to the Chamber of Commerce where there's an office that gives business consulting to people in his same situation.

George Robinson is the director of the Minority Contractors and Business Assistance Program (MCBAP). He helps hundreds of entrepreneurs every year in northwest Ohio find their niche for free. "We're starting to track increases on a weekly basis from individuals that have either been laid off from the Big Three or laid off from financial services," he told us.

In the last year, the number of entrepreneurs counseled by MCBAP has nearly quadrupled, going from 170 clients in 2007 to 570 in 2008.

Robinson says this time of transition means it's time to act. "We're encouraging individuals to be more proactive in their approach to investigating entrepreneurship. Versus reactive, i.e. After they get the pink slip or that 30-minute notice to clear their desk."

You can watch the full interview with George Robinson in the featured video.