The Small Business Counseling Program is coordinated under the direction of the College of New Jersey Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a not-for-profit, management and technical assistance program established on behalf of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the New Jersey Commerce Economic Growth and Tourism Commission. The SBDC's goals are to assist established entrepreneurs and start-up small businesses operate and maintain successful businesses.
The NJSBDC network is a premier provider of comprehensive programs and services for small businesses statewide. Established more than 25 years ago as part of a national network, the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the network provides one-to-one consulting and training in diverse areas, including but not limited to, client needs assessment, business planning, marketing strategy, obtaining financing, E Business, international trade and procurement opportunities.
As an SBA regional center, TCNJ SBDC provides free management and technical assistance to emerging, growth and start-up small businesses that would otherwise not be able to afford through traditional processes. One of 11 state centers, TCNJ SBDC's service area covers New Jersey's counties of Mercer and Middlesex counties.
Satellite locations where workshops are conducted include the county library system and local bank branches. The targeted population is Mercer County small, women and minority entrepreneurs, business owners, and other individuals with the capability to operate a business.
The implementation strategy employed is similar to the strategy that is used by the NJSBDC in offering the current program on an expanded satellite basis and includes successful specialty programs such as certificate programs and collaborative events.
Outreach is focused on:
- Municipal Economic Development offices
- Business Organizations and Chambers
- Private and Public Partnerships
- Local Community Centers, Libraries and Houses of worship
- Contribute to the growth and economic development of the small business community through small business retention and expansion
- Increase procurement opportunities for Mercer County based small business
- Increased public and private loans processed to small business owners
- Promote the benefits and resources provided by county initiatives, municipalities, libraries, business networks, business partners.
- Increase business and management education for start-up and existing companies
- Expand counseling and training to satellite sites at strategically placed in the Townships of Hamilton, West Windsor and the Borough of Hightstown.
Throughout 2006, the Small Business Counseling Program is instituting targeted small business programs and seminars providing counsel for existing and start-up businesses on related topics such as:
- Contacts for Contracts, a program designed to introduce and educate businesses on how to do business in the county, how to bid for county contracts, and county procurement policies and procedures.
- How to Start a Business in Mercer County: A-Z, with workshops designed to educate entrepreneurs on local resources and requirements to start and grow a business.
- Financing Your Business in Mercer County, provides introductions to local and county funding programs, which includes the Mercer County Loan Fund that provides $25,000 to $125,000 in financing to help support equipment, improvements and operation costs, how to access other forms of financing.
- Free Counseling to Help You Grow Your Business, which is needs assessed and soup to nuts, providing the how to on business plans, how to apply for a loan, doing business with government, veteran’s benefits, business services and employee recruitment resources available through the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board/One-Stop Career Center.