Small Business Development Center rolls out red carpet for Orange County entrepreneurs

Published 12:30 am Thursday, March 17, 2022

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PORT ARTHUR — City and business leaders gathered Wednesday at the Lamar State College Port Arthur Campus to join in celebrating America’s Small Business Development Day.

“What’s going on nationally from coast to coast is Small Business Development Centers like this one are having the same type of activities at their centers,” said Dana Espinal, LSCPA SBDC director. “We are here to start, grow and succeed small businesses.”

The center, located at 1401 Procter St., serves Orange County as well as Mid and South Jefferson County.

“It’s to help those that want to start a business, those that are in business and want to expand or grow their business, those that may need some support, and those that want to succeed and keep going,” Espinal said. “I have several clients that are true entrepreneurs, and they have multiple businesses.”

In addition to providing support for business owners, the center also offers a variety of classes such as SBDC orientation, QuickBooks training, tax preparation, insurance types, developing a business plan, management/human resources, and customer service.

“I think every small business should enroll in the customer service training and learn about customer service and what good customer service can do for your business,” the director said.

Pat Avery, CEO of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said the SBDC was instrumental in keeping small businesses open during peak pandemic times.

“We’ve established a great relationship with Dana, and we look forward to working with her on many, many projects along with the Economic Development Corporation, as well,” Avery said. “I think the three of us will make a massive group effort for our small businesses.”

According to a statement from America’s SBDC, there are nearly 1,000 locations across the country. In 2020, the centers helped generate more than 90,000 jobs, $7 billion in sales growth, and 20,374 new businesses.

“For over 40 years, the America’s Small Business Development Center Network has helped millions of men, women, veteran and minority entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses,” the statement says. “Whether SBDC’s are serving rural America, addressing a solution in bio-tech, or helping a minority business expand to global exporting, SBDCs are on the forefront, assisting their clients every step of the way.”

As part of the local celebration, Chamber and business leaders joined with the SBDC staff for a ribbon cutting. The center was also presented with a Certificate of Commendation secured by the Chamber and signed by Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Every day is a new challenge, but we’re here and we’re up for the challenge to help small businesses,” Espinal said.

— Written by Monique Batson