CONCORD — A statewide initiative to help long-term unemployed workers start their own businesses got a boost on Tuesday when the Citizens Bank Foundation announced a $20,000 donation to the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for Pathway to Work.
The donation was announced at a news conference in the Legislative Office Building, hosted by Gov. Maggie Hassan and attended by representatives of Citizens Bank, the SBDC, Employment Security, and clients who have benefitted from the program.
The SBDC is currently working with 50 clients in the program, some of whom have already launched businesses.
Julia Heinlein, a licensed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner with more than six years’ experience managing laser services, was laid off when the practice she worked for closed. She was accepted into the Pathway to Work program in October and opened Vanish Laser Studio in Portsmouth on Jan. 3.
“Because of Pathway to Work, I was able to continue to do what I love — helping people improve their self-image with cosmetic laser services,” Heinlein said. “I am thrilled to open my own studio and provide customized services. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mentor and support of this program. The SBDC reviewed my business plan, helped me forecast cash-flow projections and provides ongoing support.”
Pathway to Work was approved by the state Legislature last year and signed into law by Hassan in July.
The partnership between N.H. Employment Security and the SBDC allows eligible out-of-work residents to start their own businesses while continuing to receive unemployment benefits.
Employment Security identifies eligible candidates, provides orientation and accepts people into the program. The SBDC helps screen applicants to determine if their business ideas are feasible. It then provides entrepreneurial training, business counseling and technical assistance to participants.
The Citizens Bank grant will help the program reach more participants, and is part of Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities, the bank’s initiative designed to enhance quality of life and economic vitality in local communities, according to Mary Collins, executive director of the NH SBDC.
“Their contribution is enabling us to expand Pathway to Work and help today’s unemployed not only get back on their feet, but create jobs for others down the road,” she said.
At least eight other states — Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Louisiana — have similar programs.
For more information about Pathway to Work, visit www.nhes.nh.gov.