October 2, 2013 by Cheryl Getuiza
Small business center opens in region with untapped power of 2 million people
(photo credit: Cyrus II)
With a collective sigh of relief, small business owners can say "Finally," in the San Gabriel Valley, a place that hasn't had a small business development office since 2010. A new Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pasadena City College (PCC) has opened its doors to them.
"We are delighted to now have a SBDC at Pasadena City College. San Gabriel Valley deserves to have comprehensive small business resources, which I have been advocating for quite some time to make a reality," said Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27). "SBDCs can be so helpful to folks who need small business advice. Best of all the services are free and confidential."
Heading up the new center is Director Salvatrice Cummo who spent the last six years with the Montebello Chamber of Commerce.
"So far, the small business community, in the San Gabriel Valley, is absolutely thrilled about this center," said Cummo. "They feel they finally have support and resources to help for whatever needs they might have."
The Pasadena City College SBDC will serve Pasadena and surrounding cities by offering customized one-on-one business advising sessions at no charge. Other services include affordable training and workshops in marketing, financial management, social media, SEO, and government contracting.
"Everyone at PCC's SBDC has a global approach and collaborative approach. So relationships are forming and coming together to see where we can make the biggest impact with small businesses," said Cummo.
The Los Angeles SBDC Network contributed $75,000 to the facility and PCC matched it.
"Without their support we really would be in a difficult position trying to provide services on our own through the center," said Jesse Torres, Regional Director, Los Angeles SBDC Network. "Pasadena City College has a strong reputation of leadership, it's very forward thinking. Leaders wanted to connect workforce development programs with the SBDC and they have been generous in trying to find funding, even at this early stage."
Torres, a San Gabriel Valley resident, has been working hard the past few years to open the center in order to fill an important gap, he says, in a region that has strong potential for growth and a number of minority businesses, which will benefit from the assistance the center will offer.
"The economic power, in the San Gabriel Valley, with 2 million residents, has been untapped. This will help the process of making our region thrive, support local manufacturing and to connect the dots on workforce development services. This is a huge opportunity and this will bode well for both the region and the state," said Torres.
Giving a boost to local small businesses is important to the region because they'll be the biggest drivers of creating new jobs. A survey earlier this year by the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership showed almost 37 percent of businesses (PDF) didn't plan to hire and 39 percent planned to hire to only fill vacancies.
But, small businesses in the region should benefit from Cummo's experience and the possibility of local partnerships.
"We are encouraging the SBDC at PCC leadership to think about connecting with the technology community, partners like CalTech and IdeaLab. We're also thrilled she has experience with the Montebello Chamber of Commerce which was servicing the Latino community. Having someone with that background will help us service the minority business community, that's really important," said Torres.
"Based on the first few weeks, there is definitely a need. Everyone's voicing it, as a director it's very rewarding to know that there's a need and that we can fulfill that need," said Cummo.
Just down the road in downtown Los Angeles, the California Economic Summit will take place November 7-8, when Californians from all over the state will be talking about ways to help businesses start up and thrive in all regions.