Digging Deeper: small business growth made possible - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: small business growth made possible

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A lot of small businesses in Georgia are growing thanks to a record amount of money from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Over the last year, the SBA approved more than a billion dollars in guaranteed loans to help 1,600 small businesses here expand.

The overwhelming majority of businesses in south Georgia are small businesses.

A partnership between local banks and the Small Business Administration is putting capital in the hands of small south Georgia businesses at a time when it's tough to get. It doesn't come without work, just ask the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center.

"SBA requires a business plan, the bank, the lender often wants to see a business plan particularly with cash flow projections, and SBA requires it and that's where we really come into play," said Debbie Finney, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center Area Director.

The Small Business Development Center offers businesses advice and a critical eye along with resources to develop and update business plans, identify sources of capital, and markets for their business all free to small businesses.

"Every consultant has an MBA and lot of business experience and we are here to help business owners with those financial issues. When they get ready to go to the bank and make that loan proposal, what type of loan they should pursue we help with that," said Finney.

Nowadays a small business may not be what you think, it can be any business from 10 employees to 100 employees. In Albany they're the majority and the biggest challenge business leaders hear is getting financing.

"What is your biggest challenge as a small business, I can almost guarantee you they will say it's access to capital and potentially anti-business regulations, said Catherine Glover, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce CEO.

Which is why the Small Business Development Center and the Chamber can be invaluable resources for programs like the Service Corps of Retired Executives or SCORE.

"That is a group of folks that have been in business, have retired from business, doesn't necessarily mean that they're older, but they've been through what it takes to be a business owner, they share their knowledge they train through the SBA," said Glover.

The Small Business Development Center offers resources to businesses in more than 23 south Georgia counties. While it's tough, they say small business owners need to do more than just working in their business day to day, they need to take time to work on the business as well.

The Small Business Development Center says businesses that are strong today are ones that take the time to re-evaluate their business plans as they look toward the future.

For more information you can check out the Small Business development Center's web site at www.gerogiasbdc.org.

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