SCORE has been doing outreach to Hispanic businesspeople, feeling that group is often underrepresented. In addition to SCORE, Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives were in attendance at the kickoff, as well as two of the local "success stories" who could testify to the effectiveness of the SCORE program.
Said Felix Barrera, a recently recruited SCORE volunteer counselor who will be able to assist Spanish-speaking clients, "We're here to help. I'm happy to see us reaching out to people in need and to the Hispanic community." Barrera added, "We're trying to reach as many businesspeople and professionals as possible to let them know what help is there."
SCORE has already expanded from its initial North Hudson site in Secaucus to West New York, and now is looking to open in Union City's library as well. Eventually, they plan to expand to North Bergen, Guttenberg and Weehawken.
Speaking before the meeting, Amanda Avila, coordinator of Union City's Urban Enterprise Zone, responded to this community outreach with enthusiasm, explaining that many people don't have time to go out of the area to get counseling. She pointed to the density of the area and the number of small businesses in the area, then added, "We have a lot of business people who are newcomers to the country and don't know the information that's out there. The newcomers at times may not have the same access, but they still need that information. This [expansion] makes it a lot easier."
Also speaking at the meeting was Michael Pappas, the regional director of the SBA's region II, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Said Pappas, "This is such an exciting opportunity for SCORE, and the small businesspeople who will benefit greatly from these services. SCORE is an important partner for the SBA."
The breakfast kickoff meeting at Scheutzen Park gave government officials, bankers, and community leaders a chance to meet two of SCORE's "success stories," Juan Ortiz, President of CDM Technologies, Inc. of Jersey City, and Susan Rodriguez, owner of It's in the Cards of Secaucus. Both now have fulfilled their dream of opening their own businesses with the assistance of SCORE counselors.
Ortiz had acquired an already existing business of which he had previously been an employee. He sought and received advice from local SCORE Chapter 15 in Newark. They were helpful to him in negotiating with the previous owner, in finding financing, and in collecting his thoughts. Ortiz said, "They kept me from misguided efforts and protected me from making those typical mistakes that people make starting out."
During the meeting, Ortiz spoke movingly of how he had realized his goal of owning his business and the pride that came with that achievement, adding, "They provide that push that gets you going and into a different world." He also responded to the new outreach program in North Hudson: "I am happy that they are reaching out into this community. I'm a product of this community. I grew up in this area."
Susan Rodriguez got the idea for her business, which makes custom made invitations and greeting cards, after she designed her own wedding invitations. Friends suggested she should do this as a business of her own. The first client of the SCORE satellite office in Secaucus, Rodriguez started her business in June of this year. She said, "SCORE couldn't have come at a better time," but added, "They will give you the truth, even ones you may not want to hear."
SCORE not only helped her out with advice; they also gave her work: Rodriguez designed the invitations for the Scheutzen Park event. Said Rodriguez, "There was a lot to work with, given that it was for SCORE. It was a golden opportunity for me."
As for the future, she plans to expand her business into Southern Jersey.
In person, over the phone, or via e-mail
On Tuesday, Oct. 22, SCORE will hold a workshop for at the Hispanic Mercantile Federation Exchange at 42nd Street and Palisade Ave. in Union City. Oscar Miqueli, director of the Urban Enterprise zone in West New York and executive secretary of the Hispanic Mercantile Federation Exchange, was instrumental in organizing the workshop for Oct. 22. Said Miqueli, "Today is a prelude for the workshop on Oct. 22."
SCORE Chapter 15, headquartered in Newark, has 40 members, all of whom have been active in the business community as owners, lawyers, accountants and the like. Said Marvin Solomon, chairman of the chapter, "Get the word out. We have high-quality people volunteering their time and advice at no cost to the client."
Solomon added that counseling is not limited to those who are able to come into an office to meet in person with a counselor. Consultations can also be done over the phone, or via e-mail.
For more information, Score's website is www.score.org. The Secaucus satellite office in the town's library can be reached at (201) 330-2083, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Representatives are available there for consultation every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The West New York satellite office is located in the West New York Library at 425 60th St. Consultations at this site are available by appointment. The phone number there is (201) 295-5135. Se habla Espa