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May 26. 2014 8:37PM

Rural enterprise, technical assistance among North Country grants

BETHLEHEM — A women’s rural enterprise network in Bethlehem and a training and technical assistance project in Plymouth will get a combined total of more than $230,000 in New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority funding to boost their services and programs, CDFA officials said last week.

The Women’s Rural Enterprise Network is expected to use the money to fund a series of workshops and classes for women entrepreneurs in such areas as business coaching, e-commerce, social marketing, and website design.

The funds will benefit an estimated 39 micro-businesses in the North Country.

In Plymouth, a grant of $86,452 will be aimed at training and technical assistance programs at the Enterprise Center of Plymouth.

A partnership between the Grafton County Economic Development Corporation and Plymouth State University, ECP will use the funds to offer programs on topics such as lending advice, workshops on business skills, and one-on-one counseling for micro-enterprises that demonstrate promise for success, CDFA officials said in a news release.

The award will allow ECP to staff and market their training programs, and benefit at least 35 entrepreneurs in Grafton and Belknap counties in the next year, they said.

“As small business is an important part of New Hampshire’s economy, microenterprise efforts assist businesses with fewer than five employees,” spokesman Kevin Flynn said in the release.

“In order to get out of the garage, the pantry, or the home office, these new company owners need training in planning, marketing, and financial management they might not otherwise receive.”

This round of CDFA community development block grants total nearly a half-million dollars and will reach every corner of the state, Flynn said, by also benefitting micro-business efforts in Keene, Durham, Manchester and Raymond.

The Hannah Grimes Center in Keene will receive $134,175 to expand its technical assistance programs.

The grant will provide assistance for at least 45 Monadnock-region cooks, artisans and farmers looking to grow their fledgling businesses.

The University of New Hampshire’s Small Business Development Center will get $75,167 in support of its Pathways to Work initiative in Durham and Manchester.

The grant will fund services such as online courses in finance, management, and marketing; classes on e-commerce, business financing, and accounting; and specialized workshop topics such as construction safety and business planning. SBDC officials estimate it will serve 85 beneficiaries through Pathways to Work in the coming year.

The Regional Economic Development Center in Raymond will be granted $57,477 for its continuing microenterprise efforts. Activities will include advice on business start-ups, financial skills training, access to business financing resources, and referrals to critical support services and professionals. At least 35 budding entrepreneurs will get help from REDC’s initiatives, according to CDFA officials.

“This grant will create 80 new jobs, retain 107 existing jobs, and provide services to a minimum of 239 people,” Flynn said. “The majority of the beneficiaries are low-to-moderate income residents who are looking for empowerment to start a business and be job creators themselves. The quality microenterprise initiatives provided around the state are critical for our growing economy.”

The grant awaits final approval from the Governor’s Executive Council.



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