PASBDC Business Owners Optimistic about 2020 Economy

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KUTZTOWN, Pa. – The annual Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (PASBDC) Entrepreneur Economic survey results are in and it looks like small-business owners across the Commonwealth are optimistic for the coming year.

As of the date of this release, 660 small-business owners out of more than 9,000 clients served by the PASBDC over the past three years responded to the PASBDC annual survey. The aggregate results indicate that 25% expect the economy in 2020 to get better and 40% expect it to be the same. Small-business owners are even more positive about their own firm’s growth with more than 65% expecting their revenue to increase and 60% expect profitability to improve.

When it comes to their intentions to hire more workers, the results indicate that 37% expect to hire additional staff with hiring happening either primarily in the second quarter of 2020, or steadily throughout the year. Please see the charts in the link below for more details: https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-3MJ9WXR7/

The PASBDC network of 16 centers and more than 90 outreach offices serves pre-venture and established business owners throughout the Commonwealth with no cost, confidential professional consulting services. These consulting services include help with strategic planning, market or sales strategies, financial analysis and loan packaging, export marketing reports, cybersecurity, government procurement and certifications. This past year, more than 7,000 small-business owners sought help from their local SBDC as a proactive step toward working on their business to either start or to grow their business.

With such a positive 2020 economic outlook from existing clients and increasing request from growth entrepreneurs for strategic planning, the PASBDC projects the demand for consulting services to remain very high. Professional full-time consultants at 16 premier Pennsylvania higher education institutions deliver world class consulting help to early stage and growth entrepreneurs. Unlike many other programs, PASBDC consultants can work with any for-profit entrepreneur in the Commonwealth that meets the SBA definition of a small business (typically less than 500 employees). To be able to meet these entrepreneurs’ increasing needs, the PASBDC is seeking additional funding of $2 million from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to support the 3E (Empowering Entrepreneurs through Engagement) program for growing the Commonwealth’s entrepreneurial economy. The 3E program leverages the PASBDC’s unique placement and affiliation with Pennsylvania higher education and its federal partner, the Small Business Administration.

“By engaging our existing entrepreneurs, our alumni and our student entrepreneurs, we will expand Pennsylvania’s position as an excellent state in which to start and grow a business,” said PASBDC State Director Ernie Post.

Empowering Entrepreneurial Skill Trades Sector Growth

First, PASBDC will use a portion of the DCED 3E investment to apply for other federal grants such as POWER and EDA. The DCED investment will enhance entrepreneurial engagement with skilled trades workers such as electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, masonry and HVAC to increase new business startups within the trade skill workforce. Leveraging existing institutional relationships with community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs will help fuel the launch of new business startups within the skilled trades sector.

Empowering Student Entrepreneurs

Building on this program, PASBDC will work with more than 7,000 existing entrepreneurs to offer growth assessments, strategies and tactics to help them remain on a growth trajectory. Leveraging PASBDC’s place at universities, internship programs will connect students with small growing businesses that desperately need an educated workforce for continued growth.

Using the highly-successful University of Scranton SBDC internship program as a model, the PASBDC will replicate this model in every region of the Commonwealth. This will achieve several economic development objectives including linking college students with existing entrepreneurs, providing experiential learning for students that will lead to them considering entrepreneurship as a career pathway and helping existing entrepreneurs with their current workforce need for continued growth. PASBDC’s host institutions recruit a considerable number of students to come to Pennsylvania for their education. This program will help students consider staying in Pennsylvania after graduation for job opportunities or to launch a small business.

Engaging Alumni

The 16 universities in the PASBDC network graduate more than 25,000 students each year. This presents an opportunity to launch an alumni event campaign promoting the benefits and resources available in Pennsylvania to help them start a business or to purchase an existing business. This will help to create potential buyers of Pennsylvania existing businesses that having owners seeking to exit their businesses in the future. Pennsylvania has a high percentage of business owners over the age of 55. Their exit will cause a major disruption to the Commonwealth’s economy if new business owners are not recruited and connected with aging entrepreneurs. The PASBDC is uniquely positioned to run alumni campaigns to recruit potential business buyers. As part of this campaign, the PASBDC will create a webpage that is specifically designed to allow potential business buyers to connect with businesses that are available for sale in the Commonwealth. To help facilitate the successful transition of the Commonwealth’s aging entrepreneurs, the PASBDC will develop a business valuation and succession planning programs to guide business sellers to a successful transition to a new owner.

Engaging the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Finally, PASBDC’s host institutions connect the network’s centers with accelerators, incubators and makerspaces that have been launched across the Commonwealth. A portion of this $2 million DCED investment will be used to connect these accelerators, incubators and makerspaces with PASBDC technical assistance, business consulting and educational programs within these locations.

For more information about the funding request or the PASBDC, contact 1-877-4PA-SBDC.

About Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

The Pennsylvania SBDC network is the only statewide, nationally accredited program that provides high quality one-on-one consulting, training and information resources to empower new and existing businesses. SBDC consultants work with entrepreneurs in confidential, individualized sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities and much more. The SBDC program is a public/private partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and 16 universities and colleges across the Commonwealth. For more information on the Pennsylvania SBDC services and impact, please visit www.pasbdc.org.

About Kutztown University Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (PASBDCs) work with small firms to help them compete and grow in today's highly competitive global economy. Combining the expertise of a professional staff with the resources of the state's best colleges and universities, the SBDCs provide high quality business management consulting, information, and educational programs that build small firms' capacities to compete in domestic and international markets. Funding support and resources for the Kutztown University SBDC program are provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Department of Community and Economic Development, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and through support from Kutztown University. All services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Special arrangements for persons with disabilities can be made. The KUSBDC is also funded under a cooperative agreement from the Defense Logistics Agency.