Published on February 5, 2013 by Kevin O’Connor, Herald News Staff Reporter
BRIDGEWATER — If you want to go into business for yourself, experts say you need a good idea and a better line of credit. So you are in luck. Advice and credit are available right now.
SEED Corp., a subsidiary of the Small Business Administration, will hold seminars beginning Feb. 13 at Barrett’s Ale House, 425 Bedford St., Bridgewater, to advise those interested in starting a new business how to get started.
This class will be broken into two sessions. The second will be on Feb. 20, according to Laura Driscoll, vice president of commercial loans for SEED Corp.
“You really need a business plan for the banks to give you the time of day,” Driscoll said. “We will tell you how to put that together.”
The first session will cover the fundamentals of business ownership. The second will cover understanding and preparing financial statements.
The March session will be held at the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, 171 Falmouth Road, Hyannis, on March 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In April, it will be at the Mansfield Holiday Inn, 31 Hampshire St., Mansfield, on April 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. SEED (South Eastern Economic Development) holds the seminars every month except July and August, Driscoll said.
Interest in the seminars has been picking up — one of many signs that the region is recovering from the recession that started six years ago, Driscoll said.
One other sign is that money is available for new businesses to borrow, according to Kenneth Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. “Four or five years ago, credit was much tighter,” Fiola said. “That crunch is easing. Banks are getting more aggressive with lending. “Access to financing is not a problem now.”
“It definitely is improving,” said Malise Sunderstrom, an economic development specialist for the SBA’s Boston office. “We’ve made more loans in the past two years than we made from 2008 to 2010. Statewide, we are seeing that.”
“Many banks direct new business prospects to the SBA, to FROED or to SEED for help fine tuning a business plan or finding a location for a new business, Driscoll said.
“Business lending has always been predicated on a good business plan and a good track record,” Fiola said. “That is just sound banking. I don’t see many businesses being declined financing if they don’t have other issues.”
The presence of a strong community banking sector in Massachusetts, especially in Southeastern Massachusetts, has also been a boon for small businesses, both Driscoll and Fiola said.
“Fall River and this region has the community banks as well as the large corporate banks,” Fiola said. “That means that the businessman or -woman has a choice of options open to them.”
A study by the Massachusetts Bankers Association confirmed that. The study, completed in early 2011, found that small-business lending was more active in Massachusetts, even through the depths of the recent recession, because of the work of small community banks. Small community banks picked up the majority of the small business loans that national banks refuse to renew in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the study showed.
Community banks continue to work aggressively with small businesses, Driscoll said.
The SEED Basic Entrepreneurial Workshops are still open for those interested. There is no charge — Mechanics Cooperative Bank is sponsoring this seminar.
Those interested are asked to register in advance by calling SEED at 508-822-1020 during business hours. For more information, go to seedcorp.com.
Email Kevin P. O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.