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Program promots small business

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POSTED: July 14, 2007 5:03 a.m.
The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce recently sponsored a resource forum at Savannah Technical College to educate entrepreneurs’ methods of enhancing their existing businesses or starting new ones.
Kyle Hensel, business consultant with the Small Business Development Center, and Tony O’Reilly, president of the Small Business Assistance Corp., addressed a crowd of 20. They provided information on services and resources available for small business owners, and financial resources available for those looking to start a business or expand an existing one.
Most of the resources and counseling services provided by the center and corporation are free.
Some of the services provided are developing business plans, setting up financial records, securing micro-loans, identifying capital resources, creating marketing strategies and more. The SBDC also offers classes for a small fee that teach entrepreneurs how to manage, organize, seek capital, record keeping, and computer software for Web design or operations.
Currently, these classes are held in Statesboro and Savannah, but chamber Director Kenny Smiley is hoping to generate enough interest to bring classes to Liberty County.
The forum is just one step in the process for the chamber to achieve designation as an “Entrepreneur-Friendly Community from the Georgia State Department of Economic Development.
Another is the formation of the Liberty Entrepreneur Assistance Program.
Chamber officials hope the chamber will be the “One-stop shop” for someone wanting to start a business in Hinesville and Liberty County.
“Our chamber is very excited to take the lead on receiving our community’s Entrepreneur-Friendly designation. Once we have been designated, we will become eligible for grant money which we will use to develop educational seminars, classes and workshops,” Smiley said.
The chamber will soon begin a survey targeting entrepreneurs.  
“We are in the process of identifying entrepreneurs in our area and will email them surveys to complete for us,” he said. “Compiling this information is part of the designation process and will be used for statistical information as well as a resource for us to pull from when we need information on certain types of businesses in our area.”
He encouraged everyone who gets a survey to complete it and return it back to the chamber.
“We have a quota to meet and for those we do not receive back via email, we will try to conduct a face-to-face interview. We hope to have our Entrepreneur-Friendly Community designation no later than October.”
In addition to the SBDC and the SBAC, a representative from Savannah Tech also discussed ways that institution supports business and free enterprise.
Hensel announced a program would soon be available for military families who wish to become entrepreneurs. The pilot program on “Patriot Loans,” will be launched in Hinesville and Liberty County.
For more information on the SBDC or the SBAC, visit www.georgiasbdc.org and www.sbacsav.com
 

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