Funding for Small Businesses, Startups Triple in Oakland County

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Small businesses and startups in Oakland County received nearly $23 million in loans and $39 million in capital formation through the county’s business center in 2013 — more than triple the amount of funding secured the year before.

t“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “They are a bell-weather of things to come. When businesses start investing more, it’s a sign that they are confident about the future.”

tIn 2013, the investments helped generate nearly $43 million in revenue for the businesses and created more than 200 jobs. The year before, they helped produce $11 million in revenue and created 191 jobs.

tIrene Spanos, Oakland County’s director of economic development, said the increase in investment follows a renewed focused on small business, thanks, in part, to assistance from Greg Doyle, who manages the small business center. She adds that the center’s new Walk-In Start-Up Thursdays initiative — which launched last May and offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet with an experienced business counselor with no appointment necessary — has also been beneficial.

t“The center has taken a new approach to being more open with the community and providing access for small businesses to work with us,” Spanos says. “So more small businesses and startups are reaching out and asking for help. More people are coming through our doors, so we’re able to help more people than we have in the past.”

tIn addition to helping businesses secure loans and other forms of funding, the Oakland County Business Center, located in the One Stop Shop on the first floor of the Executive Office Building in Pontiac, also helps businesses by providing them with basic resources and materials. “I believe it will attract more jobs for residents, and add more entrepreneurial ideas for the county,” Spanos says.

tLermit Diaz, president of SCTools in Auburn Hills, is among those who have utilized this business center. In Diaz’s case, he secured funding as well as participated in a 10-week venture program, where he learned how to look at his company from the different perspectives of marketing, finance, and sales.

t“It’s been great with so many things out there I didn’t know about,” says Diaz, noting that one of the major issues the center helped him address dealt with accounting. He says this was extremely important especially during the loan process, which the center showed him where he had to be at for the process.

tLike Diaz, Andy Pas, founder and CEO of A Pass Education in Farmington Hills, also participated in the center’s venture class, where he learned how to use social media to bring more attention to his company, which provides publishers and school districts with up-to-date educational technology.

tTo learn more about the business center, call 248-858-0783 or visit AdvantageOakland.com.

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