Office in Norwalk City Hall To Offer Small Business Services
by Chris Bosak | Dec. 16, 2015
NORWALK — Potential and new small business owners have a new place to turn when facing questions regarding the various aspects of getting a business off the ground and running smoothly.
Norwalk City Hall will now play host to an office of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which will be manned by small business advisor Anthony Peters. The office will be located in Room 100 and will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Small business owners from Norwalk and beyond may make appointments or walk in. The advisory sessions are free and confidential.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Norwalk and we’re pleased to be partnering with the (SBDC) to meet with small business owners to help them meet the challenges they face,” Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday morning. “Norwalk has long been a partner with its small businesses because as small businesses thrive, we thrive as a city. There are a lot of small businesses and for many of them, unless they seek proper help, a lot of them will fail. When they are successful, we are successful.”
Rilling said this is the latest effort to urge residents to support local businesses. The city held a Shop Small Business Saturday day following Thanksgiving.
The position will be funded with federal (Small Business Administration) and state (Department of Economic and Community Development) funding. There are 13 such advisors in Connecticut. The only cost to Norwalk is providing the space in City Hall.
Edward Musante Jr., president of the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, said the number of services offered at the office will vary greatly and help a wide number of business owners.
“It’s almost cradle to completion with the services offered here,” Musante said.
Emily Carter, state director of SBDC, said one of the main goals of the program is providing access to capital for small business owners. In the last fiscal year, she said, SBDC helped clients access $41 million.
“We want to see small businesses in Norwalk take off,” Carter said. “It’s nice to see all the partners working together.”
Carter said the Norwalk office will expand its hours if the demand is there.
Elizabeth Stocker, the city’s economic development director, said opening the SBDC office is the latest step in a broader plan to improve the business environment in the city.
“It’s a nice addition to our plan to help small businesses,” she said. “We are proud to open this office as a supplement to programs already available.”
One such organization in the city that already offers mentoring to small business owners is SCORE, another program of the SBA. Brian Baxendale, chairman of the Fairfield County SCORE chapter, was on hand at the press conference Tuesday to offer support to the new office. SCORE has its office at 111 East Ave.
“Anything that helps small businesses,” Baxendale said. “We are all here to raise the water level of economic activity. A lot of people have the passion, but don’t understand the framework of what it takes to get a business going — even before you earn your first dollar.”
Eleanor S. Reimer, president of the Norwalk Community College Foundation, said the school is taking a more proactive approach to teaching its students the principles of entrepreneurship. She said a lot of students want to start their own business after graduating instead of going to work for someone else.
“We realize it’s not enough to provide education and prepare students for existing jobs,” she said. “We have to provide resources and education to help them start their own businesses. We are delighted with this initiative (at City Hall.).
Rilling hopes to hold a public event in January to introduce and explain the program at City Hall.
For more information or to become a client of SBDC, visit GrowCT.com.
Originally posted at http://www.thehour.com/business/local/article_71762288-81a9-50ad-af6d-4654a02d32d5.html by Chris Bosak in The Hour, “Office in Norwalk City Hall To Offer Small Business Services”. Published on Dec. 16, 2015, Accessed on Dec. 16, 2015.