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New E-Commerce Incubator, Temporary Outreach Office To Benefit Displaced Workers

FULTON, NY – With more unsettled economic times looming at the end of this year, plans are in place to assist displaced workers in the coming year and beyond.

SUNY Oswego’s Small Business Development Center, working with its Watertown Regional Center and local, state and national officials and agencies, is opening a temporary outreach office in Fulton to assist displaced workers who want to start new small businesses.

The new e-commerce incubator and temporary outreach office is located in the Lower Falls Building, 34 S. First St.

The $100,000 portable assistance grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also enable the SBDC to establish an e-commerce incubator in conjunction with a local real estate developer.

The plan is operate the temporary office in Fulton to assist displaced workers for a few month months, depending on demand.

“There will be an SBDC adviser at the facility in Fulton, but the focus is on helping displaced workers and others analyze their skills, hobbies, and interests to determine if something can be commercialized and then help them set up an online business,” explained Lawrence R. Perras, advanced certified senior business adviser at the SUNY Oswego Small Business Development Center.

“The purpose of that grant is to fund projects that will develop programs that could then be repeated by other SBDCs to help entrepreneurs in areas affected by plant closures or natural disasters,” Perras said. “Only $588,000 was available to SBDCs nationally this year.”

“For example, as part of this project we will be using some venture feasibility software, the development of which was funded by another Portable Assistance Grant made to the North Country SBDC in Plattsburg,” he continued. “If the need for the facility becomes large, we will try to find a way to fund it beyond next September.”

The new e-commerce incubator is complete with Internet-connected computers for training and startup.

Fulton is a prime location for such a facility as it has lost more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs since 1995, according to the SBDC’s grant application.

An on-site business adviser will provide the displaced workers with advice and training on starting a small business.

Workshops will include the new course “What Business Should I Start?” It will feature a skills and interests assessment that can help point people to a business that “fits” and which can be commercialized.

“The target is individuals who have thought about it and would like to start a business, but haven’t really decided which one to take on,” Perras said.

The center will hold a free open house Dec. 15. It is open to the public.

The open house will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 34 S. First St.

At 4:30 p.m. Dec. 15, the small business outreach center has scheduled a workshop based on the Rhonda Abrams bestseller, “What Business Should I Start? Seven Steps to Discovering the Ideal Business for You.”

Space is limited for the free workshop. To register, call 312-3492.

For more information, email [email protected]