AmeriCorps member offers ‘money smart’ courses

Talitha Cooper pauses during a financial literacy forum.

PACIFIC COUNTY — Navigating the confusing, and sometimes murky waters of financial independence can seem overwhelming even when the goal of economic success seems clear. In this capitalist society the opportunities for financial growth are limited only by one’s enterprising imagination, this also means that folks need to make sure they are adequately prepared to undertake their financial journey.

Whether you are a small business looking to improve your customer base, a prospective homeowner looking for the best loan, in the market for a credit card, or taking your first steps into a bank account. Having an advocate who is financially literate and understanding of the needs or goals of a person’s individual economic situation can really be beneficial.

Talitha Cooper is an AmeriCorps member who has connected around Pacific County to advocate for making sound financial decisions in the community and has helped to springboard several small businesses into the realm of digital marketing. Throughout this past year Cooper engineered and hosted weekly presentations to share knowledge with community members anything economics, she has been able to share with the public her passion for personal financial success. “Having an up-to-date accurate budget and spending plan is essential to the very basic management of your finances. Everyone should know how much of their income needs to be put aside for bills and other living expenses. Otherwise you’re risking your security by not being able to make ends meet.”

Beyond encouraging people to be more thoughtful of their personal finances Ms. Cooper also helps local businesses or prospective business owner understand the local market. Accordingly, she works closely with the Pacific County Economic Development Council, whose office space she conveniently shares.

Mike Williams, administrative assistant with the Pacific County Economic Development Council, said the digital revolution has changed the way businesses market themselves. “Having an online presence is critical for businesses that want to succeed,” he said. “Google has replaced the phonebook as the main resource for customers looking for service in the local marketplace.” With more than 2,500 businesses in Pacific County, the economic marketplace is diverse, but many business owners don’t have the website development skills necessary to reach their demographic. “Talitha has been great at working one-on-one with business owners in building a website.”

Developing a small business is a challenge in and of itself, where many business fail is simply that they do not have enough customers. It can be very helpful to have that extra liaison to help brainstorm ways to share a business with the community and get the word out to a more broad spectrum of the population. “Talitha was able to bring some tech savvy ideas about how to reach more of the community.”

Helaina Kennedy is no stranger to Pacific County and has been running Bayshore Realty for almost 25 years and her more recent venture, Something To Crow About, both have benefited from the updated digitization that Talitha was able to help set up. “Our hope is that we can link people and communities through our business, and Tali was an absolute pleasure to work with.”

In looking to the future, Cooper said her hope is that by reaching out to younger residents their healthy spending habits will continue to allow them to develop into exceptionally literate financiers. “High School aged students need to be aware of the important financial decisions that lie just ahead for them.”

Furthermore, Cooper offers a Money Smart course available in person or online that identifies where takers are lacking most and offers modules specific to these areas. “Anyone who finishes the post course evaluation will be eligible for a $50 Visa gift card.”

To learn more about how Cooper is helping Pacific County businesses or to sign up for the Money Smart course, email talitha.cooper@ghc.edu or call the Economic Development Council in Raymond at 875-9330 and ask for Talitha.

If you are interested in learning more about the other AmeriCorps driven programs currently serving in Pacific County, contact Becky Fischer at fischerb@willapabh.org.

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