AMHERST – CBDC Cumberland has been making a difference in the region’s economy for more than 35 years by not only helping small business come to life, but helping it mature and grow.
CBDCs assist in the creation of small businesses as well as in the expansion and modernization of existing businesses by providing financial assistance and technical services to entrepreneurs while also connecting them to counseling and training opportunities.
“We support small businesses and entrepreneurs in a variety of ways from small business loans to entrepreneurship training,” CBDC Cumberland executive director Carys Wood said. “There are all sorts of entrepreneurship training opportunities available.”
Wood said one of the training opportunities her staff encourages entrepreneurs to take is management training that covers managing the overall business, not just the technical side of things.
“It gives them the skills to help grow their business,” she said. “It helps them understand all the elements involved in managing a business, from understanding the financial statements, how to manage staff and how to strategically market their business.”
There’s a huge difference between producing a product as a sole proprietor and managing the people who produce it. This pitfall sometimes upends the business plan and can threaten the future of the business.
CBDC Cumberland has access to a fund that it can provide financial assistance to small and medium-size businesses wishing to take advantage of training opportunities. This fund helps alleviate the cost of training.
There’s one-on-one counseling for management, marketing and creating an overall diagnostic of the business while there are also group training opportunities.
“A lot of people find the networking opportunities that came out of those sessions to be as beneficial as the training itself,” Wood said. “It helps to sit down and talk things out and meet other people.”
Financial assistance is not only available to business start-ups, but also to entrepreneurs looking to grow their business and for succession planning. She said there are several loan programs that can be tailored to the business needs.
It also offers the self-employment benefit program that allows an entrepreneur, who is on or has been on employment insurance over the last three years, to get financial assistance while growing their business.
“It helps with household incomes while you start your business,” he said. “Revenues the business generates can be put back into the business to help with start-up.”
There is also a program that helps businesses use clean technology such as solar power, geothermal or other clean energy sources.
Wood said the CBDC’s training fund in Cumberland County is used fully every year and she said the organization is often requesting additional funding. This shows the level of economic engagement in the region.
The CBDC’s loans total in excess of $1 million each year.