Small Business Officials Find Local Success Stories
LIBERTY - Small business owners take note: there is help out there.

One of the biggest challenges Fred Harding and his staff at the Mid-Hudson branch of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) face is getting their name out there.

But several folks in Liberty can tell you it’s well worth it.

Cindy Fracasse didn’t know which way was up when she decided to take over the old gym on the village’s Main Street and turn it into the Liberty Fitness Center. But like any mom, she’d spent hours at the local library perusing books while her youngest son sat through reading hour. And she found out all she needed to know about ‘grant funding and getting your foot in the door.

Then Dianne Brady at HSBC Bank gave her the tip of a lifetime. Call the SBDC, she said, and Fracasse did it.

Don Dodds of the center played a “strategic role” in getting Fracasse’s business off the ground.

He helped her write a business plan, helped her set up different phases of development for the facility, and guided her to other business resources available in the area.

“Small business is the backbone of New York’s economy, especially after the 9/11 disaster,” Fracasse said. “The rebuilding process relies on all aspects of economic developers who are determined and dedicated to the non-acceptance of failure.”

She found that, she said, in the SBDC.

Today Fracasse has 16 employees, training programs for certifying personal trainers, a dance class program in the building, weight rooms and karate classes, and she’s working on bringing boxing to Liberty.

“The SBDC is the premiere business assistance program in the state,” Fracasse noted. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Representatives from the group, as well as officials from the federally-funded Small Business Administration, which oversees SBDC branches throughout the nation, were in Liberty Tuesday to see some “success stories.”

“[Cindy] said it better than anyone could,” said Michael Pappas, regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Essentially, the SBDCs offer free one-on-one counseling to small business owners, Pappas explained. They assist with start-up and provide research and management information to keep the business alive through the years.

The SBA provides half of the funding for the SBDCs. The remaining monies have to be matched, either through state funding, money from a supporting university or the private sector.

The purpose, Pappas explained, is to have centers dispersed geographically throughout the country so entrepreneurs can work with someone in their area.

“We go wherever we’re needed,“ said Harding, director of the Mid-Hudson’s SBDC based in Kingston.

Tuesday, that was Fracasse’s Fitness Center, the Seanachie Pub across the street, as well as Continental Cleaners and Uptown Auto Repair.

“We wanted to see some success stories,’’ Pappas said.

And they wanted to get the word out about the services SBDC has to offer.

For more information, or to get some help for a small business, call the Mid-Hudson Small Business Development Center at 845-339-0025.

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