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Thanks to a $200,000 federal grant and a coalition assembled by the Sullivan County Division of Planning, 21 local entrepreneurs are accessing the help – and money – they need to see their small business dreams realized.
“Business isn’t easy, and we want to make you succeed,” affirms Sullivan County Assistant Planning Commissioner Jill Weyer
She’s coordinating the Microenterprise Assistance Program (MAP) and its component Entrepreneurial Training Program – an eight-week course geared toward entrepreneurs employing (or planning to employ) five or fewer people.
Currently in its fourth week, the program is focusing on helping owners/owners-to-be formulate a business plan that can gain them financing – with a particular eye toward food service and restaurant entrepreneurs.
“Banks traditionally don’t give money to restaurants because of their high failure rates,” Weyer explains.
While restaurants received preference for this round of training, all small businesses are eligible to apply.
In addition, MAP is specifically designed “for applicants with few personal assets, little or no usable collateral, and credit ratings below those that commercial lenders would consider acceptable for financing decisions,” according to the program guidelines.
In other words, this is tailor-made for those working on as shoestring a budget as it gets.
Held weekly at Sullivan County BOCES’ Adult Education Center in Monticello, the training costs $100, but
participants end up with something far more valuable and marketable: a formal, well-thought-out business plan.
It’s a key document too many local entrepreneurs never create, even though lenders typically require it.
“There is a ton of financing opportunities out there,” Weyer notes. “What we need [to access them] are solid business plans.”
In fact, MAP’s offer of $5,000-$35,000 loans is directly based on participants completing the training and presenting a business plan.
Those loans come with a very favorable two percent interest rate and a term of up to five years. They can cover up to 90 percent of a business project’s cost. And as much as 25 percent of the loan amount may be forgivable, depending on circumstances.
But MAP goes beyond financing and business plans. Participants are also given technical and practical assistance from local experts, from help with licensing and permitting issues to finding and training employees.
Weyer said the Planning Division – and its partners: the Center for Workforce Development, BOCES, the Partnership for Economic Development, Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Agency – hopes to offer the Entrepreneurial Training Program again in the fall, then twice a year thereafter for small businesses to access MAP and other financing.
Even if you have missed signing up for this current round, you haven’t missed out. Weyer and her colleagues are ready now to help you access the expertise and financing from local economic development agencies, who collectively represent around a million dollars in lending power.
To find out more, contact the Planning Division at 845-807-0527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.