Small Businesses create two thirds of all net new jobs in America. In Washington County, the diversity and depth of our small business community has long been one of our greatest assets. In fact, Washington County exceeds the state average in small businesses per capita. SeOPA is pleased to share several avenues of assistance for small businesses.
Bankers, accountants, attorneys and other experienced business owners are always a great source of advice and counsel. SeOPA also finds the following resources to be helpful to small and start-up businesses:
1st Stop Business Connection is a website that can help entrepreneurs obtain licensing, permitting and registration information needed from the State of Ohio. Go to www.odod.state.oh.us/onestop/index.cfm
Businesses may also be subject to regulation and permitting from Washington County as well as municipalities (cities and villages) and townships, depending upon location. Building or renovating commercial and industrial buildings will require obtaining building permits from the Washington County building department. Call (740) 374-4185 or go to www.co.washington.oh.us/asp/buildingdept/dept-building.asp. Note that zoning and floodplain regulations may be under municipal or township authority, depending upon location. Additionally, plumbing permits may be regulated by the health department. In unicorporated areas, subdivision regulations may apply. To get definitive answers, businesses are encouraged to contact authorities in the jurisdiction they are locating. As a service, we have attached some permitting factsheets from the City of Marietta and Washington County permitting offices.
Business Planning and Start Up
The Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are a network of professional business counselors across Ohio. The SBDCs are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Ohio Department of Development, and local sources. SBDC services are free to clients. Pamela Lankford is the Director of the Marietta SBDC at 308 Front Street, downtown Marietta. Pamela has won numerous awards for her work in helping small businesses. She can be reached at (740) 373-5150 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to offering counseling, Pamela holds regular seminars called Basis of a Successful Start (BOSS) for those people new-to-business or considering starting a business. For more advanced small business owners and managers who are ready to take their business to the next level, the SBDC offers (NxLevel seminars). Learn about SBDC services at www.sbdcmarietta.org.
Specialized Technical Assistance
Sometimes an existing business needs some advice or information about accounting, marketing, financing, collecting receivables, succession planning, or creating a strategy to go public. The help needed may be as simple as a phone call or as complex as weeks of research. A few free resources exist:
The SBDCs offer free counseling to existing businesses. The SBDC also coordinates the local Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program. Finally, a library of resource materials are also maintained by the SBDC. Contact Pamela Lankford at (740) 373-5150. Alternately, you can go to Ohio SBDC homepage at www.sbdcmarietta.org.
More specialized assistance is available in southeastern Ohio through unique programs at Ohio University. Ohio University's Voinovich Center houses the Appalachian Regional Entrepreneurship Group (AREG). AREG offers business consulting services, including finance and accounting assistance, marketing and sales strategies, technology process improvement, and government procurement assistance. Learn more at www.voinovichcenter.ohio.edu/areg/index.html Also, the $15-million Entrepreneurial Signature Program can provide seed capital, angel investment and technical assistance dollars to high-growth potential technology ventures. Companies interested in applying for Entrepreneurial Signature Program assistance can go to www.techgrowthohio.com to request assistance.
A variety of loan programs exist to help finance small business expansions. Most loans will not replace banks, merely reduce the risk the banks incur or fill a gap between the credit available and the credit needed. Government loan programs still require a "bankable" deal so credit restrictions will apply. The list below includes some of the most commonly used small business loan programs.
Under the SBA 7a Loan Guaranty, the SBA will guaranty a portion of a bank loan. Entrepreneurs should work through participating banks. Most banks, at least through their main offices, have the ability to handle SBA 7a loans. Learn more at www.sba.gov/financing/sbaloan/7a.html.
Buckeye Hills Regional Development District offers a variety of revolving loan fund (RLF) programs. These funds can finance a portion of a business fixed asset needs (land, building, machinery and equipment). Some working capital may also be possible. RLF funds are to be used in conjunction with a bank loan. The amount of loan available will be tied to the amount of jobs to be created or retained as well as other eligibility criteria. Learn more about the RLFs at www.buckeyehills.org.
The Capital Access Loan Program allows local banks to build up a reserve account against losses (small business lending is risky) using a partial state subsidy. The bank and borrower will also help build the reserve account. This reserve helps banks make loans they might not otherwise make. Please be aware this program has not been embraced quickly throughout all of Ohio, and not all banks participate in this program. Learn more at www.odod.state.oh.us/CAP.
The SBA 504 Direct Loan will finance up to 40% of real estate or equipment. SBA 504 loans are available through the Ohio Statewide Development Corporation website at www.ohiostatewidebusinessloans.com/loanprograms.html.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) offers a variety of loan programs. One of the most popular is the 166 Direct Loan, which will provide fixed asset financing to financially strong, established companies engaged in manufacturing, distribution, research & development or business service where most sales are from outside of Ohio. Rates are below market and fixed for the term. Learn more at www.odod.state.oh.us
The Hopewell Fund is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization founded in Wheeling, West Virginia, in order to provide creative loans to promising enterprises throughout the Ohio Valley that may not be able to gain traditional financing. Assistance is targeted to companies that will create higher paying jobs. Working capital financing is possible. Minimum collateral requirements apply. Technical assistance will be provided. For more information, go to www.hopewellfund.com or call (304) 214-4200.
Venture capital for high-growth companies can be available in the region through Adena Ventures. Adena Ventures is a private, for-profit venture capital fund, and was the first New Markets Venture Capital Fund, as designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration, in the country. Learn more at www.adenaventures.com