Cara Evans hopes AXIS can give local business a boost
It comes naturally for Cara Evans to advocate for the small business owner.
After all, she was once one herself, and so were her parents, aunts, and uncles.
"Growing up, it was always a case of if you’re not working, you’re not earning," Evans said. "With that type of mindset, it forces you to be creative, to be enterprising, and you approach most of life with a cost-benefit analysis."
It was easy to see the benefit of Evans becoming the Director of AXIS, a hub of services for small businesses, burgeoning entrepreneurs, and the self-employed at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. She understands the sacrifices and hard work of business owners just starting out or self-employed individuals operating a business without a traditional office space.
So Evans’ goal as AXIS director is to reach out to those people, become a resource in the community for their success, and help the budding industries in Oklahoma.
"I want to capitalize on newer markets coming to Oklahoma," Evans said. "There’s definitely an interest in being diversified. I want to really focus on establishing talent pipelines and making sure we are accessible to the companies and individuals that want to grow within our district."
Evans has spent most of her life in fields that exist to help people with their businesses or assets. She was a bank teller in high school, a marketer coming out of college, and worked with an Angel investor fund in Oklahoma before starting her own business. It all supports her vision for how AXIS can best serve the community.
At the heart of AXIS’ mission is its state-certified small-business incubator. Both new and established businesses can become clients so long as their goal is to get more out of their operations.
Evans knows about this process because she’s been on the other side. She founded Custom Land Management and became the first client in Autry Technology Center’s small business incubator.
Later, she became the face of that small business incubator.
"It’s exciting to work with people who are starting a business," Evans said. "I know what they’re going through. You don’t have a salary or benefits, and you’re on call 24/7. It takes a certain kind of person to step out there on their own."
Her work to build Custom Land Management also gave Evans insight into the numerous government entities, both municipal and state level, that some clients will also encounter. It’s a unique skill set that makes AXIS that much more valuable.
"I knew what it was like to be on the other side of it and what mattered to me as a tenant and what didn’t," Evans said. "I think the nature of my experience makes me an asset to tenants. I did many different things with state agencies. So much is public record, but it is confusing until you know which agency holds what."
AXIS also has spaces for licensed professionals who work outside of an office. Desks and meeting rooms, standard business services, and training opportunities are available to notaries, accounting professionals, real estate agents, insurance agents, and those needing space to accomplish their goals.
Small businesses — especially those in an incubator setting— often need access to these professionals. The Intersect is a coworking space at AXIS that serves as a space for these licensed professionals to work and for small businesses in the incubator to meet and connect with them.
"Without those people, you can’t get a closing done, you can’t get your financing, you can’t get an industrial property, without those people who serve as those intermediaries," she said. "So, we want to focus on those people and ensure we are serving them, too."
Evans envisions AXIS as an access point to the local economy for those hoping to grow their business. Its working relationship with Francis Tuttle Workforce and Economic Development and Onward OKC gives clients unrivaled access to training and growth resources throughout the OKC metro.
"I love Oklahoma, and I want us to be the best we can be," Evans said. "I feel that my role helps people take care of their families, make a living, and connect their skills to employment. My goal is to increase the wealth for Oklahomans."