HANFORD — Local would-be business owners and entrepreneurs now have a new set of tools to give them a head start on their dreams.

Main Street Hanford debuted its new business lending library this week at the Hanford branch of the Kings County Library. The collection consists of about 260 books covering subjects such as entrepreneurship, creativity, design, finance and other aspects of running a business.

Shelly Talbert, executive director of Main Street Hanford, said the organization previously had about 20 books in its office that were mostly used by business owners, as well as Main Street board and committee members.

“This takes it to a whole new level,” Talbert said. “Even someone just thinking about starting a business in our city will be able to find some good information on how to get started.”

Because the library is a joint effort between Main Street Hanford and the Kings County Library, each book in the collection sports the logos of both organizations.

Steve Banister, who serves on the Main Street Hanford board of directors, said he came up with the idea for the library while attending the national Main Streets Conference in Baltimore last year.

Banister said he recalled doing research at the Hanford library and seeing a diverse crowd of people perusing books and interacting with one another.

Main Street Hanford has as its mission to promote the growth and revitalization of downtown. Banister said a partnership with the library was ideal because it’s located in the heart of Main Street Hanford’s Business Improvement District.

“There are a lot of people who have been thinking about opening a business for a long time,” Banister said. “And now that they have these tools available to them, they might read something that makes them say, ‘I think now is my time to really go for this.’”

Vice Mayor Gary Pannett said he regularly hears comments from constituents who are interested in starting a business, but don’t know where to begin.

“A lot of times they ask, ‘How can I start a business downtown? Where can I start it?’” Pannett said. “So this is really a great resource.”

Mayor Lou Martinez said he thinks the books will be a big help to the local community, particularly for citizens who have been considering starting their own business.

“Anyone who is interested in being an entrepreneur will have access to this resource,” Martinez said. “I think there are a lot of people who’d like to start something.”

Banister said Main Street Hanford will maintain a budget to continually expand and update the business library several times each year.

Laura Cole-Rowe, executive director for the California Main Street Alliance in Suisun City, attended the grand opening of the library while she was in town to present at a Main Street Hanford board meeting.

Cole-Rowe said it’s fairly common for Main Street programs to have collection of business books available to the public, but Hanford’s business library is unique.

“When I was a Main Street director, we had one in our office as a lending library,” Cole-Rowe said. “But I have not seen a partnership with a county library or a city library before.”

The California Main Street Alliance, which coordinates Main Street programs throughout the state, will hold its annual conference in Hanford next year.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or by email at meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.

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