July 27, 2011

Officials Reach Out to Local Small Business Owners | The Martinsburg Journal

SHEPHERDSTOWN - Local small business owners met with federal and state officials in Shepherdstown for advice about how to expand or get started Tuesday morning.

John Shoraka, the Mid-Atlantic's regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, was the first speaker at the event.

"The main objective today is to make sure small businesses in the community are aware of the services that we have available," said Shoraka, whose region includes West Virginia and several other states.

The SBA works to help with small businesses to help them raise the capital they need to grow, generate a business plan through counseling sessions and secure government contracts for the businesses' products and services, Shoraka added.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy ... from the president to our administrator to our deputy administrators to us in the field, understands that small business is the backbone," he said. "They hire three out of every four new jobs. ... Half of all Americans either work for a small business or own a small business, so getting them the necessary resources is key to getting the economy going."

Additional information on the SBA is available by calling Shoraka's office at 610-382-3090 or by going online to www.sba.gov.

Those in attendance also heard from Christina Lundberg, the center manager/business coach for the Small Business Development Center of the Eastern Panhandle, Diego Gattesco with the U.S. Department of Commerce and members of Sen. Joe Manchin's staff.

Gattesco, who works out of the U.S. Export Assistance Service in Wheeling, spoke to the business owners about how important it can be to expand the market for a businesses' goods and services beyond the U.S.

"If you're exporting you're going to have a greater demand, it's going to help your business grow, and as you grow you're going to have to fill those demands, you're going to have to at least keep your employees or hire new ones," Gattesco said.

Additional information on the U.S. Export Assistance Service can be found online at www.export.gov, or by calling the Wheeling office at 304-243-5493.

Lundberg said that the Martinsburg office of the SBDC can help provide valuable, local assistance for small businesses looking to expand and for individuals thinking about opening a small business.

"We are funded by the SBA to provide ... free services to you; we also partner with other resources," she said. "If you want to get into exporting, if you want to get into procurement, as a small business owner you need to understand those kinds of things are going to take additional people resources. ... You may have to look at somebody else to help come in and help you with those kinds of expansion programs."

Lundberg's office is located at 142 N. Queen St., Martinsburg, and it can be contacted by calling 304-596-6642 or going online to www.wvsbdc.org.

By:  Matt Armstrong
Source: Regional administrator talks with entrepreneurs about help available from governments