SBA, city officials agree on small business partnership

SBA, city officials agree on small business partnership

Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, left, signs a partnership agreement with the Small Business Administration last Thursday to help small business owners through a series of workshops in the city. At right is SBA New England Regional Administrator Seth Goodall. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)
Seminars will be held on variety of topics

WOONSOCKET - The U.S. Small Business Administration has partnered with city officials to provide free counseling and training sessions for local small business owners.

Co-sponsors to the agreement are the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, BankRI, SCORE, and the Center for Women & Enterprise.

Officials signed off on the partnership in a ceremony last Thursday at Woonsocket City Hall. Seminars for local business owners, set to start April 23 at a time and place to be announced, will be held once a month at such locations as Woonsocket City Hall, the Woonsocket Public Library and the railroad depot.

"SBA is pleased to assist with economic development in Woonsocket through this co-sponsorship," said Mark Hayward, director of the SBA Rhode Island District Office. "The training and counseling available to Woonsocket small businesses will help them grow and succeed."

Under the agreement, SBA and its resource partners will provide counseling and training programs to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the city.

"SBA is always looking for more tools to help small businesses succeed," said SBA New England Regional Administrator Seth Goodall. "This co-sponsorship will enable us to deliver relevant training events to meet the needs of start-up businesses, businesses poised for growth, or businesses that may be struggling and need expert guidance."

With a little technical assistance, businesses can "increase their bottom line," said Goodall, "often with just a little bit of effort."

Hayward said representatives from the SBA are looking forward to working with city officials to get Woonsocket "back up and running and working."

The business topics to be presented will include:

* Accounting for non-accountants;

* How to write a business plan;

* Marketing plan development;

* How to build your credit score;

* Determining a legal structure for your business;

* And how to explore government contracting opportunities.

The workshops are open to the public and are offered free of charge.

The same program for small business owners was recently started in Pawtucket, said Hayward, and more than 40 people attended the first meeting in that city.

"I commend the SBA for their partnership with the city of Woonsocket to provide counseling and training programs to our small businesses," said Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt in a statement. "Writing business plans, marketing, rebuilding credit scores, selecting the right business structure and securing government contracts are invaluable skills that can only enhance the effectiveness of our small business community."

Baldelli-Hunt said at the ceremony that there are currently a "significant number of businesses looking to come into the city or expand in the city," but the "missing component" is the "support they need to help them grow or at least begin their business."

She said many aspiring business owners are just looking for guidance on how to get going, and she is happy to be part of bringing a program that will help them get started.

The agreement was signed by Goodall, Baldelli-Hunt, John Gregory, president and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, William Tsonos, senior vice president of BankRI, George Hemond, chairman of the Rhode Island SCORE chapter, and Carmen Diaz-Jusino, program manager for the Center for Women & Enterprise.

"The Chamber is pleased to be a partner with the city of Woonsocket, the SBA, SCORE, CWE and BankRI," said Gregory in a statement. "This is yet another example of our commitment to collaborative efforts that have a positive impact on small business."

For more information about SBA programs and services, call 401-528-4561 or email providence.ri@sba.gov.