Entrepreneurs Receive Support from Montco’s Commerce Department

NORRISTOWN — For those looking to start their own business, the Montgomery County Department of Commerce offers a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurship.

In partnership with the Small Business Development Center, would-be entrepreneurs receive free services that provide information on the ins and outs of starting a business, according to Commerce Director Dave Zellers.

Funded by the US Small Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Small Business Development Center operates from 15 colleges across Pennsylvania, according to Zellers. The Montgomery County contingent works with Lehigh, Kutztown and Temple universities.

“The SPDC, they don’t write business plans for people,” Zellers told MediaNews Group. “What they do is walk them through the process and coach them, because at the end of the day, you want them to really feel like they own their idea.”

More than a dozen entrepreneurs attended a First Step workshop on September 22, the first in a series of four monthly workshops, scheduled for the third Thursday of each month through December. Attendees at the September 22 session included those looking to start businesses in consulting, graphic design, and healthcare.

DAVE ZELLERS

“It’s really meant to frame people, to make them feel good,” Zellers said. “These are people starting their business, or maybe they haven’t figured it out yet, but they have an idea. Everyone is a little different, but that’s okay, that’s fine. It all depends on the technical expertise they get.

Sessions feature key legal, procedural and practical information free of charge to attendees. Topics range from registering a certain type of business to getting an overview of financial, zoning and other regulatory codes, according to county officials.

Additional market resources and consulting opportunities are available to those who sign up, according to Zellers, who added that the relationship between future business owners and the Small Business Development Center should be considered long-term.

“I think it gives people an extra edge, and that’s so valuable, and it also gives them extra confidence,” he said. “I sincerely believe that in order to be able to ask these questions, to get this help in any form and that is important.”

Zellers and representatives from the Small Business Development Center presented a progress report on the initiative at a meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners last month, and elected leaders were pleased with the progress.

“It’s such a valuable asset to have entrepreneurs and start-ups in our community, and I look forward to expansion efforts here,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale.

Montgomery County Commissioners Chairwoman Val Arkoosh agreed.

“Our small business community is so important to job creation and the future growth of this county, and we want them to feel well supported and able to thrive,” she said.

The next workshop is scheduled from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on October 20. Those interested in registering for the event should visit the Montgomery County Department of Commerce website at montcopa.org/commerce or pasbdc.org. A location will be made available to participants after registration.

Looking back on the first session, Zellers said he had high hopes of reaching many more and helping them realize their dreams.

“I think anytime we can see more people who are excited about entrepreneurship and growing their businesses…it will help in any of our communities where those people want to take that leap and start their business or their next location. or whatever,” Zellers said.

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