Even in the midst of a national economic downturn, Women’s Economic Ventures continues to energize the Central Coast business community. After 14 weeks of classes in finance, leadership skills, marketing and more through WEV’s Self-Employment Training program, 82 people are set to graduate in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Ventura and launch their business ideas and services.

On Wednesday, 30 people will participate in a graduation ceremony for the Santa Barbara program from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Goleta Valley Community Center in Goleta. During the ceremony, the graduates will be recognized for their achievements and will announce their new business ventures.

The event will conclude with a reception and business expo, where graduates will showcase their new or pre-launch businesses.

Santa Barbara’s latest WEV graduate businesses include fitness training, a do-it-yourself supplies manufacturing company, a window-washing business and a dog training school.

“Economic transformation in the United States economy has historically been driven by the development of small business,” WEV founder and CEO Marsha Bailey said. “They provide economic stability to their local communities by generating locally based taxes, and they help keep money in the local community.”

There are now more than 1,000 businesses throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties owned and operated by graduates of WEV’s Self-Employment Training program or recipients of small-business loans through WEV.

Enrollment is open for February classes.

Marjorie Wass is a publicist.