Reaching Out To The Business Community

Jul 1, 2011

Connecticut’s Small Business Development Center – the SBDC – has been using federal funds to provide help and advice to companies in the state for some 30 years. Now it’s re-organized itself to be closer to the entrepreneurial community. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited with one of the center’s new regional representatives.

This is Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. It’s the home base for a new adviser for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.

“I get to work in the area that I live in, that I have my business, that I have a strong connection to the community here.”

Marcie Boyer doesn’t have the kind of academic background that most advisers come from – she is herself a business owner.

“I think I always had an entrepreneurial spirit.”

She’s run a Fair Trade store in New London for the last eight years, and when she started out in business she says she got a reputation as someone who asked a lot of questions.

“There wasn’t one person where you could go and get all the answers, and the hardest part is having the right question.”

Now she’s been recruited by the SBDC to be the person to provide some of those questions and answers to local business people. She says the biggest part of setting up the new position has been to network with other local organizations.

“Helping me to make the connections, letting people know that we’re here. I’ve gone to all of the banks, I’ve met with the vice presidents of the commercial lending departments. And so now I’ve sort of created, I’m hoping, avenues for business owners to get help at critical time points.”

Three Rivers itself has an entrepreneurial arm that provides training and services to local businesses, and it’s in this office that Marcie Boyer is now based. Peg Stroup is director of business and industry services at the college.

“It really has developed into a symbiotic relationship where I can help provide Marcie and the SBDC with some of my clients who are in need of their services. Likewise if she runs into a company that’s in need of some consultancy or education and training, I can try and put that together.”

Boyer’s Norwich office is one of three newly established centers that the SBDC hopes will expand its existing network and improve its outreach to local businesses. The others are in Waterbury and Bridgeport. For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.