Column By John Rowland

   Is this the year to start your own small business?  The economic recovery is still beyond many of us, companies are still not hiring and at some point unemployment compensation benefits will run out.  So, what options are left?  Move out of state?  But are opportunities better somewhere else?  Probably not, this recovery is still far off and it is national in size, although the Northeast has been particularly hard hit.

   Most people have dreamed of having their own business, but dreaming is easier than reality.  So, how do you get started?  Well, after the crucial work of producing a business plan, connecting with people in the industry and getting your family’s cooperation and support… jump in.

   Here are a few places to connect with, first the Small Business Administration, which  does a lot of loan guarantees and are good resource, but if you can work with the Connecticut Community Investment Corporation, they can show you the way. You can do so by calling (866) 776-6172 or go online to; they are experts in small business loans, and can get you headed in the right direction.  The other group to contact is the Small Business Development Center, part of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.  Go to and get the answers that you need.

   The SBDC has workshops and training seminars that will help you get through the basics of starting your own business.  The SBDC gives technical assistance, educational programs and counseling for start up businesses and for existing business owners that want to expand or diversify.

   You may have also heard about the “Job Creation Legislation” that passed recently and is partially focused on small business development.  Most of these programs are focused on existing small businesses and require loan applications.  You can reach out to get more information for the “Small Business Express Program” by going to and clicking on Small Business Express Programs.  The website can give you information on economic development programs, training and information from the Department of Labor as well.

   The Small Business Express Job Creation Incentive Program has some restrictions ,for example  you must be in business in Connecticut for at least one year, and be in good standing on local and state taxes.

   The focus is on job creation and the state will loan money for training, marketing and capital expenditures.  The loans range from $10,000 to $250,000 with interest rates up to 4%.  There are forgivable portions of the loans and loan deferments depending on how many jobs are created.

   There are  other organizations, some public, private, that can assist existing small businesses as well, and offer training support, tax incentives, and support for customer development.  The challenge is to navigate through these programs and see which ones can help your business grow and prosper.

   But, these government loans and programs are only beneficial if you have a good business idea, customers, good employees and a lot of hard work.  Perhaps this is the year to go out on your own, form a partnership with someone else or at least expand your existing small business.  As always, we are here to help any way we can at the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce.