Small business award grows local economy, creates jobs

The Oswego State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) received a grant worth $100,000 through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to senior business adviser, Larry Perras.

With the bad economy and the unemployment rate negatively affecting Oswego County, the SBDC plans on helping displaced workers get back on their feet by starting small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration only gives grants to SBDCs and is used to help alleviate stress on areas that are dealing with economic difficulties that can be attributed to natural disasters or under privileged areas.

As for the $100,000 grant, it will allow the SBDC to set up a new temporary-outreach location in Fulton to provide small business owners with assistance.

The outreach location will house classes and workshops. One workshop in particular will focus on assessing people’s skills and interest and finding a way to turn it into a business that can be commercialized, Perras said.

“Chena Tucker will lead the outreach location, essentially helping business owners with their business plan and finding loans,” Perras said.

The money will also go towards establishing an e-commerce incubator for online business startup. The incubator will allow small business owners to start up websites to increase their business’s exposure and it will allow business owners to manage their business online.

Last spring, the SBDC won the Service Excellence and Innovation Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBDC has helped several people over the years, including John McGraw, the owner of Uniforms, Etc., located at 129 Cayuga St. in Fulton. The business sells uniforms catered to firefighters, law enforcement, E.M.S. personnel, sports teams, etc.

Not only is McGraw the owner of Uniforms, Etc., but he is currently a full-time firefighter. In May of 2003, McGraw had to put out a fire in the mall that housed his store at the time. McGraw said that everything was gone after that fire. McGraw was forced to move his business to a small store, according to Perras.

The business advisers at the SBDC felt that McGraw’s new space at the time was too small, and that the business needed a bigger location. So the SBDC sprung into action. They helped McGraw with building a solid business plan and obtaining a bigger place for his business.

“The SBDC was instrumental with helping us with the expansion of our business,” McGraw said. “Today I still call on the SBDC for advice from time to time.”

The SBDC receives 330 clients a year wishing to start or grow their own small businesses.

“Our overall-internal goal is to help our 330 clients collectively make about $7 million a year,” Perras said.

They are trying to accomplish that goal by expanding their facilities and actively taking an interest in their clients’ businesses.

“Eighty percent of our time is dedicated to one-on-one counseling with our small-business owners,” Perras said.

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