Uncle Sam Offers Help to Small Businesses by Paula Katinas (Paula.Katinas@brooklyneagle.net) e 05‐26‐2011 By Paula Katinas Bay Ridge Eagle U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm has fought in a war, worked undercover as an FBI agent and run for a seat in Congress. But he said none of these things was the most frightening thing he’s ever done in his life. “Opening my own small business was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, the scariest thing,” Grimm, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, told a group of business owners at a forum on 13th Avenue last Friday morning. “I mortgaged my house,” he said, recalling how fear grips every small business owner just starting out. “Panic sets in. You don’t sleep. You wonder, ‘Is anyone going to come in?’” Grimm owned a health food store in Manhattan prior to running for Congress. Grimm was at the forum to help launch the New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a new, federally funded program that will be run under the auspices of the College of Staten Island. The SBDC already has an office at the Sovereign Bank at 9516 Third Ave. with four employees ready to help small business owners. The SBDC will assist business owners by providing information on how to obtain loans, how to deal with government bureaucracy and how to reach out to potential clients, Director George Balsamini Sr. said. “We’re not a city agency. We’re funded by the federal government through CUNY,” Balsamini said, referring to the City University of New York. “There are 24 centers like us throughout the state. There are a lot of things we can do with the resources we have.” The new center is the first in south Brooklyn. “We were underserved here and we want to correct that,” the director said. The SBDC will help owners whose businesses are already up and running, as well as would‐be entrepreneurs seeking to open businesses, Balsamini said. George Telmany, the SBDC’s business advisor, said the new program could do for small businesses what planning divisions do for large corporations. “There are corporations that have entire divisions that plan for the future. We want to do that for the small business owner. They need to plan for the future just as a large corporation does,” he said.
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