01/07/2010- North Country Small Business Development Center here to help

Published January 07, 2010 11:35 pm
North Country Small Business Development Center here to help


By DAN HEATH
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — Here to help.

The North Country Small Business Development Center is holding an open house today at its 194 U.S. Oval offices. Regional Director Rick Leibowitz said they want to help people understand the free services available at the center.

FREE COUNSELING
One service is confidential one-on-one counseling for current and prospective small-business owners. "Our core is business counseling," Leibowitz said.

The center's staff can provide tips and advice on business-plan development, strategic planning, financial forecasting, management reorganization, buying or selling a business, marketing planning and more.

"We give our clients the tools to make better-informed decisions, and we do it quickly," Liebowitz said. "The thing we can provide better than most is rapid-response services."

Clients can usually have an appointment within 48 hours. Other responses can be even faster, almost immediately by phone or e-mail.

FORECASTING
Leibowitz said the center's staff won't write the business plan but work to help the client create an effective one. One frequent problem area is inaccurate financial forecasting, he said. Staff work to get that forecasting within a 3-percent accuracy rate. "That really gets you in tune with your market and its future," Leibowitz said.

He said business owners should also have a contingency plan in place if something goes awry, such as massive layoffs at a nearby business. Business owners need to be proactive in growing their business, rather than reactive.

SEMINARS
The center presents a number of business training seminars each year, often in partnership with organizations such as the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Adirondack Economic Development Corp. and ComLinks.

That allows access to more programs than any one single organization could provide, Leibowitz said. The center can also help with research assistance through its statewide research network, with five full-time librarians on staff.

"We give them an assignment, and they give us a very robust report, sometimes on very obscure subjects," he said.

THOUSANDS HELPED
The center provides these services to businesses throughout Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren counties. It does so with only four people on staff: Leibowitz, Business Advisers Karen Stehlin and Andy Allison and Office Manager/Intake Adviser Linda Willett.

Since it was founded in 1984, the center has worked with 6,306 businesses. That assistance helped those businesses to invest $65.9 million dollars and create or save 2,424 jobs.
The center is funded, in part, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, but also by Plattsburgh State. The university serves as administrator of the center. It is one of 23 small-business development centers in New York. Those centers have more than 230 counselors available, a vast network of people who often work to help each other.

"If I have a client in an industry I'm not that familiar with, I can reach out to my colleagues in the other centers," Leibowitz said.


E-mail Dan Heath at: dheath@pressrepublican.com

 

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The North Country Small Business Development Center is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the US Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.