Friday, January 11, 2008

Support the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center – it’ll be more important than ever in 2008.

A member of our “Team DSO” this week attended a meeting of the Loudoun County Economic Development Commission’s Marketing & Business Retention Committee. The EDC is a “is a public/private partnership responsible for promoting Loudoun's economic development.” The Marketing & Business Retention Committee advances entrepreneurship and economic diversity, helps brand and market Loudoun’s assets, cultivates competitive industry clusters, and helps develop, expand, protect and promote signature attractions and cultural heritage.

This is a group of “volunteers” representing towns and area businesses, with participation by County leadership from the Department of Economic Development. This particular meeting was focused on discussing and providing input to the County’s “Action Plan for Economic Development”, actions which revolve (within budget constraints) around supporting the strategic initiatives mentioned above.

One of the more interesting discussions revolved around the need for more explicit support, in both communication language and budget, for the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center. The EDC’s strategic initiatives don’t necessarily focus on employer or workplace size, but explicit references to support especially for small businesses would be especially helpful in the coming year.

While attracting larger businesses (with overall greater tax revenues and economic impact, and less county service utilization costs than new residences) is a key mitigation element to this year’s looming budget shortfalls, helping sustain and promote small businesses is likely equally important. This observation is based on the current economic downturn’s effect among the neighborhoods, which we can see first-hand on a daily basis. More and more home-based businesses are sprouting up, with Moms returning to work, families seeking additional income to offset mortgage issues, a proliferation of online businesses made possible with cheap Internet tools, etc. When job loss, cutbacks or other sudden increases in family fiscal liability hit, many people are looking for quick mitigation in jobs with small businesses, as freelancers and affiliates, or with rapidly-created startups.

The SBDC is uniquely positioned as a key resource and lynchpin to the success of this coming wave of small business growth. Find out more, use their services, volunteer support, and write to your local officials about the need to increase County funding and support of this critical resource.

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