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Small business development help set for South County

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image LYNN SCHULTZ

A satellite office of Hillsborough’s Small Business Information Center will open here next week

By MELODY JAMESON

APOLLO BEACH – Whether the objective is taking a hobby from pleasure to profit or getting a novel idea off the drawing board and into business mode, South County citizens have a new ally in the effort.

And much of the help is free of charge.

A satellite office of Hillsborough’s Small Business Information Center (SBIC) will open here next week. Formal announcement of the SBIC’s newest satellite was made during a SouthShore Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week by Lynn Schultz, community services coordinator in the county’s Economic Development Department.

Initially, office operations will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. one day each week in a section of the chamber’s Apollo Beach headquarters, Schultz said. The chamber’s AB offices are located in the Shoppes at Mira Bay.

The SBIC’s range of services is wide, the coordinator noted, beginning with providing in its offices business-pertinent information related to U.S. Internal Revenue Service requirements or State of Florida obligations for small businesses or partner data. The office can give assistance to small enterprises wishing to do business with local government. It can help with registration and certification of a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) , as well as with a number of other areas of interest to the small business person. SBIC also performs business surveys and commercial needs assessments within a community.

The center is known for its various workshops conducted in the community and designed to help the start-up business operator as well as one trying to grow an already established enterprise. At various locations during October, for example, workshops devoted to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs, to making a business plan, to marketing, to taxes and the small business, to a two-part series on businesses in the food industry all are on the calendar.

A pair of them already is slated for Ruskin. On October 22, SBIC will offer a day-long review of the small business tool kit, a workshop on starting a new business. Two days later, on October 24, a two-hour seminar on bookkeeping essentials for the small business operation is scheduled. Local programs also will be offered in Spanish, Schultz said.

The center can provide a comprehensive check list of the various matters involved in starting a new business plus the contact information needed to handle each of them.

This check list deals with such topics as determining the type of organization the business will operate under, creating the business name and how to register it properly, obtaining the business tax receipt and from whom as well as getting the appropriate licensing and from which entity.

In addition, the overview offers direction related to financing options, whatever insurance or bonding is necessary, understanding the taxes required and ensuring there is compliance with local zoning codes. The guide includes tips for protecting the new business idea and preparing a business plan, plus lists other resources of interest to the entrepreneur.

As part of its services, SBIC also makes in-person business calls by appointment, visiting a business site to offer on-the-spot counseling, Schultz said.

Designed to be a “first stop” for the entrepreneur, the SBIC website describes the agency as one created to facilitate and promote development and growth of the small business sector, fastest expanding segment of the economy. It partners not only with SBA, but also with the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida and with members of SCORE, an organization of retired executives available to counsel newcomers to business ownership and management.

The SBIC primary office is located in the Corporate Square office park on north 56th Street in Tampa.

Citizens wishing more information about its services can telephone the office at 914-4028, extension 62010, or the chamber office in Apollo Beach, 645-1366. The SBIC website address, where the monthly calendar can be viewed and workshop registrations completed, is https://sbic.hillsboroughcounty.org

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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