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These (Often Underutilized) Organizations Offer Valuable Resources To Small Businesses Like Yours

If you own or are thinking of starting a small business, chances are that you value individuality and independence. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone when you establish your own business! There are many valuable resources available to you at the local, state, and federal levels to help you succeed as a business owner. You have probably heard of a chamber of commerce or the SBA before, but let’s take a closer look at the resources these organizations—and others—provide to current and aspiring small business owners like you.

Chambers of Commerce

The aim of the chamber of commerce is to further the interests of local businesses. The chamber does this through hosting events and other activities, lobbying local representatives and preparing grants in efforts to improve funding for local business, and performing charitable works within the community. The chamber of commerce is a membership-based organization that provides support and perks to its members. Members typically receive free promotion of their business and listings in local publications. Being a member of a chamber of commerce provides a business with a support system and exposure both to consumers, as many people use the chamber of commerce to learn about local services and products, and to other businesses—as attending chamber events will provide you with opportunities to interact with other local business owners. Becoming a member of a chamber of commerce also boosts the degree to which other businesses and consumers perceive your business to be credible and legitimate.

Economic Development Corporations

While a chamber of commerce promotes the interests of businesses local to a specific area, an economic development corporation (EDC) has the broader goal of promoting economic development within a geographical area. This typically means focusing on longer-term growth by attracting businesses to that area. There are both local- and state-level EDCs, and they often work closely together. The state-level EDC may economic incentives such as offer low-interest loans, grants, and tax credits to attract businesses to the state.

Small Business Development Centers

America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are funded in part by the U.S. Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBDCs are hosted by universities and colleges, state economic development agencies, and private partners. They provide free business consulting and low-cost training to both new and existing businesses. For more information, visit the America’s SBDCs website.

U.S. Small Business Association

The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is a U.S. government agency that offers training programs, one-on-one business counseling services, and online tools to help people start and grow businesses. The SBA provides resources for new business owners to create a business plan, perform market research and competitive analysis, locate sources of funding, and understand tax obligations. Other programs and services provided by the SBA include disaster assistance, local and online trainings and workshops, and online tools. For more information, visit the SBA website.

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