The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Northeast Berks Chamber: Business resources at your fingertips


By lmitchell@berksmontnews.com">Lisa Mitchell, lmitchell@berksmontnews.com

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce members learned about the “Many Resources at your Fingertips” during a chmber breakfast on Feb. 15.
Speakers were Michael Kane, U.S. Small Business Administration; Ernie Post, Small Business Development Center at Kutztown University; and Janet Yost from Kutztown Community Library.
“These many resources are available to you and most times at no cost,” said Chamber Executive Director Tammy Gore in her invite to area businesses. “Learn how to help yourself and your businessby knowing what’s out there for your use.”
Kane spoke about the programs and services available from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“I am here to help you,” said Kane. “We exist solely to assist entrepreneurs.”
SBA programs and services are available to both startup businesses as well as help existing business owners expand and grow their business.
“From a counseling perspective, we offer a variety of educational opportunities to help you understand your business better,” he said.
Educational assistance -- including how to create a business plan, build a marketing plan, develop financial projections, and more -- is offered through a group of resource partner organizations, such as SCORE (volunteer retired professionals who offer free business mentoring), the Women’s Business Centers and the Kutztown SBDC.
“All of these organizations offer free one-on-one counseling and low cost seminars for you take advantage of,” said Kane.
See the SBA website at www.sba.gov for more information.
“Tremendous, tremendous opportunities that are available from my agency,” said Kane.
Post talked about what’s new at the Small Business Development Center at Kutztown University. Last year the center launched the Jump Start Incubator, in partnership with the Berks County Community Foundation and Community First Bank. Five entrepreneurs are on the 3rd floor of the building of the Foundation.
“Those companies are growing and prospering quite well,” said Post.
Grad students and SBDC consulting staff are down the hall from the business owners.
“We are able to give more intensive mentoring and counseling,” he said.
Like SBA, Post said the SBDC offers one-on-one free confidential consulting to any entrepreneur in Berks County. “Our primary mission is to help companies start, grow and prosper,” said Post.
Yost talked about the free library database resource, Reference USA, a source of business and residential information for reference and research to help you research job prospects and perspective clients, locate hard to find vendors, network with other businesses, survey locations for expansions and conduct competitive analysis.
Library patrons can access Resource USA through the library website. Patrons must have a library card to access it.
“These are resources literally at your fingertips,” said Gore. “The chamber is a resource to you. They are all members of the chamber and they are all there to help you. Use them. Use us at the chamber. I may not know the answer, but I almost always know who does not the answer.”
Sponsored by Capital Blue Cross, Dudley Mann, the breakfast was held at Golden Oaks Golf Club. The chamber also recognized 7th or 8th grade students who excelled in career education or technology classes.