Small-business advisers share in national SBA award


Small-business advisers based at SUNY Oswego and Jefferson Community College have won a national award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SUNY Oswego Small Business Development Center, as part of the Watertown Regional SBDC, will receive the Service Excellence and Innovation Award May 23-25 in Washington, D.C., during the National Small Business Week observance.

Competition for the award is intense: There are 953 regional SBDCs in the United States and its territories.

“They’ve been thinking outside the box with the types of programs and online training to adjust to small businesses and different schedules,” said Bernard J. Paprocki, director of the SBA’s 34-county Syracuse District Office.

Like their colleagues headquartered at JCC in Watertown, Larry Perras and John Halleron in Oswego advise hundreds of entrepreneurs a year aiming to start, expand or keep small businesses.

“A key part of our success is that we have a very good staff,” said Eric F. Constance, the Watertown SBDC’s regional director. “I just put the lead out there and they’ll do what they need to do to get it done.”

The Oswego team works closely with small-business owners and banks in Oswego County, which is part of the Jefferson-Lewis-Oswego service area for the Watertown region.

“We prepare the client to talk with a banker,” said Perras, senior business adviser, who has been with the Oswego office since its founding as part of the Watertown region 10 years ago.

SBDC’s range of free services includes counseling, assistance with preparation of and changes to business plans, micro-enterprise courses and workshops, and collecting data to help businesses make informed decisions.

The Oswego unit is headquartered in Rich Hall, in the Office of Business and Community Relations. The campus location, Perras and Halleron said, has led to numerous SUNY Oswego and SBDC synergies:

* Interns from the School of Business play a key role in research and other parts of the office’s business-development projects.

“Students learn the individual working parts of business development in each of their classes, but here they get to see how it all comes together,” said Perras.

* The Students in Free Enterprise group worked with the SBDC advisers last year, won a regional competition and went on to nationals.

* Perras and Halleron have reviewed final business plans of students in professor Sarfraz Mian’s entrepreneurship classes.

* The business advisers have worked with human resource management majors on capstone projects to review personnel policies at area companies.

* They have also worked with high school students in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Program, and collaborated recently with Operation Oswego County on a $25,000 business-plan competition.

In the decade the Oswego unit of the Watertown Regional SBDC has been open, Perras and Halleron calculate the office has created or saved 1,584 jobs and helped business people find $59.1 million in funding—usually market-rate loans, but sometimes low-interest ones subsidized by state or federal programs, and occasionally grants.

“I think we have a good reputation with banks here, and even in Onondaga County,” said Halleron, who works half time in Oswego and half in the Onondaga Community College SBDC’s Liverpool office.

Before coming to SUNY Oswego and the SBDC, Perras owned his own financial services company, and held accounting-related management positions at two area companies. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

Halleron, a SUNY Plattsburgh graduate, formerly was in management with area banks and a federal credit union.

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(Posted: Apr 19, 2010)

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