Small business is indeed the backbone of our economy – in our region, state and country. Small businesses have long been our greatest job creators, our most creative innovators and the incubators for growth in new, as well as traditional, sectors.
Looking ahead to 2015, with the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index at a 7 year high, let’s see how we in the Hudson Valley can better support, grow and diversify our small business sector. This could mean shopping at a small boutique or bookstore when we run out for last minute gifts; turning to local farms, wineries, craft distilleries or caterers when planning our New Year’s parties; choosing family-run hardware stores, suppliers or pharmacies over the big box chains; or starting your own business, maybe something you have been dreaming about for years.
At the state level, we are working to support small businesses, as well. The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council was a top performer in the state’s recent funding cycle securing $82.8 million. Together with the Capital Region Council, a total of $140 million was awarded to our region. A chunk of that will support small business projects in Dutchess and Columbia counties, including $1 million toward creation of a revolving loan fund to be managed by Community Capital, the SBA certified micro-lender for the Hudson Valley.
In the 2014-15 state budget, we created a new Minority and Women Owned Business Investment Fund and Lending Program to provide critical financial support for new and emerging ideas and to promote long-term financial performance and success of MWBE start-ups. We are also working to offer more opportunities to our veterans through initiatives like the veteran’s entrepreneurial assistance program.
For those who want to explore launching that small business they’ve always dreamed about, there are some excellent resources here in the Hudson Valley:
The Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) has a Hudson Valley location at the state-of-the-art Hancock Center at Marist College and they offer seminars on entrepreneurship – from “first steps” to a 60 hour comprehensive course — as well as peer support, access to capital, social media training, veteran’s programs and networking opportunities. They can be reached at WEDC-MHV@wedcbiz.org or by calling 845-575-3438.
The Mid-Hudson Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers free counseling and a wide range of training to small-business owners, including guidance on how businesses can lower their energy costs. They are particularly focused now on educating businesses about preparation and recovery in case of natural disasters like storms or floods. Interested businesses can contact the SBDC at 845-339-0025, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at mid-hudson.nyssbdc.org.
In addition, Empire State Development oversees the Business Mentor NY program, which connects entrepreneurs with experienced business experts in a mentorship relationship. For more on this program please visit: http://businessmentor.ny.gov/.
As always, if you have questions or any other community issues, please feel free to contact my office at 845-454-1703 or by email at BarrettD@assembly.state.ny.us.