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Whether a business is just starting out or has been operating for years, Western Connecticut Score has the resources to help local entrepreneurs grow their company and succeed.
For more than years, the nonprofit organization Score has been supporting small businesses through education and mentorship. It provides free and confidential services that can be done in-person or digitally for organizations at every stage of development.
With 304 chapters and 10,000 volunteers nationwide, Score has been a part of creating more than 54,000 new businesses across the country. Its local branch of the association, Western Connecticut Score, has been around for 24 years and helped start 55 businesses in 2016 alone.
Dennis Daugherty, chairman of Western Connecticut Score, said that the group looks for professional mentors with diverse backgrounds and specialties to ensure that they are meeting the needs of those seeking assistance.
“When we interview a new [mentor] we are looking for a person who has skills that are unique and needed within the chapter,” Mr Daugherty said. Those skills could range from marketing prowess and social media fluency to international business knowledge and manufacturing experience.
“When someone comes in as a new client, they come to our chapter administrator and our chapter administrator assigns a Score mentor to work with them based on their request,” he explained.
Local business owners do not have to go far to find the help they need, because among the five Western Connecticut Score counseling locations is an office at the Newtown Municipal Center on the Fairfield Hills Campus.
Start-up companies can have business ideas reviewed, learn how to apply for licenses, get information on legal and accounting services, and create a detailed business plan; while existing businesses can benefit from developing growth strategies, refining marketing plans, and having business situations confidentially reviewed.
There are also year-round library workshops and free online webinars for businesses to gain insight on specific topics.
Western Connecticut Score has already assisted nearly a dozen Newtown businesses, including the Edmond Town Hall on Main Street. Sheila Torres, operations manager for the Edmond Town Hall, has been working with Score for nearly three years.
“As the [Edmond Town Hall] changed after the Town of Newtown left this building to go to the Municipal Center, we were under a lot more pressure to generate enough revenue to fund the operations of the building,” Ms Torres explained. “It was tough.”
During that time she spoke with a representative of the Economic Development Commission about seeking help and it was recommended she contact Score — specifically, Wes Thompson for his expertise.
Mr Thompson, who is also part of the Newtown Economic Development Commission, has been with Score for nearly a decade. He started volunteering with the group in Danbury and then opened the Newtown office at the Municipal Center five years ago.
“He’s really generous with his time. He meets with us on a weekly basis, unless we can’t meet or don’t need to meet,” Ms Torres said. “He’s a wonderful person to provide advice and sound off ideas.”
Mr Thompson originally worked with the Edmond Town Hall to develop its business plan, but as time has gone on and milestones have been reached, he has also been able to assist in other areas, such as standardizing budgeting.
Through the partnership with Score, Ms Torres said, more opportunities have become available for the Edmond Town Hall, including working on a marketing plan with the help of UConn.
In addition to utilizing the mentorship aspect of Score, Ms Torres says she has also taken advantage of their “excellent programs” offered at the Newtown, Ridgefield, and Danbury libraries.
Ms Torres says the Edmond Town Hall has already seen improvement thanks to Score’s help. She encourages businesses considering seeking help to check out the free programs that Score offers and to reach out to the group directly.
“I think it is really important for small organizations, because they don’t have the resources and they don’t have expensive consultants. It’s a great thing, you can find someone who can really help you,” Ms Torres said. “It’s a wonderful resource.”
To learn more about Western Connecticut Score, visit westernconnecticut.score.org or e-mail email@example.com. Those interested in working with a local Score representative can call 203-794-1404 for an appointment at the Newtown Municipal Center office.