the SBDC, a bad day and a ring
I'm don't think I've ever told the whole whitewater park origin story here before, but there was a potential project before Franklin. That project started my relationship with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.
Specifically, I had an idea for Boston's 2024 Bid of the Summer Olympics, that could benefit New Hampshire and its youth. I also made mention that the idea would require at least $35M to develop.
I did this via a generic contact form on their website... Imagine receiving that email.
[let's cut to the board room on the receiving end]
"Someone from somewhere in the state of NH, just sent us a generic email from the website," stated the already overworked SBDC business development agent.
"Oh my! I just read it. They think they need $35M to develop an idea, but I just Googled their name. It appears they have no relevant experience, with anything related to this... I guess they were a whitewater raft guide... I'm not even sure what that is," replied a business rep.
[the group begins to cast glances around the table. each one slightly more flabbergasted than the previous]
The boss begins speaking, "Don't you all jump on this at once. Do we need to draw straws?"
Andrea O'Brien broke the silence. "I'm already working with as many clients, as I can, supporting and growing their businesses, with our plethora of free services, but they are in my region. I will reach out."
That was the beginning of our relationship. Not really, but I imagine it went something like that.
Fast forward, Andrea has positively impacted every piece of Outdoor New England's and Mill City Park's business; developing business documentation, staffing, connecting us to municipalities, other businesses, legal, accounting, helping with financing, marketing, enrolling us into business school... the list is honestly endless. The intangible things often mean more to me - taking pictures at our grand opening, having a drink together at NYD party, ONE's birthday, the random pick me ups and check ins.
More recently, the SBDC has taken an active roll in Franklin. They created a satellite office here. It has enabled direct contact to all of the downtown businesses, each one with a different need or at a different stage. All of this work, costs money, time and effort, however for our community businesses and any business that chooses to reach out, this help is free!
This was my position, when I said yes, to meeting Fred Kocher of WMUR last week. I've had such a positive experience with the SBDC, I felt obligated to help support their meaningful work. WMUR was reporting on the state's position of cutting the SBDC's budget as part of the budget process.
When the day finally came to virtually meet with Fred, it was not one of my best days... I was nervous for the show (after all, I watched him every Sunday). I missed a meeting. Almost got in a car crash. Two important packages were supposed to arrive, but they didn't. My daughter clipped a tree while skiing and had her first ride in the meat wagon. My son, who I thought only had a bad cold, was riding on my shoulders... Well he didn't just have a bad cold. He also had a stomach bug and ended up showing me through a projectile of the stomach kind.
By the time I finally sat down for the meeting, I was spent. Unknowingly, I was still in for one more surprise.
Once we began, it was all a flow moment for me... Words spilled out of my mouth with years of facts and the confidence from articulating the story hundreds, if not thousands, of times. I didn't have to worry anymore. It was happening and it would be over soon.
But you see, I made a decision prior to the interview to close the shop for the meeting. It made sense right... No one would come in. The crew wouldn't chatter in the back or make me laugh. It would be easier for me to say my piece, then go back to work.
Like clockwork... my intro was concluding and I was about to start singing the praises of the SBDC and my experience... when the phone rings. My face turned red, being caught by the thing I missed. The rings lingered and whoever called was going the distance. All 8 rings. Then the voicemail prompt. Then the message.
Fred was great, he reassured me that it would be edited out and I just kept going. If you watch the interview, you'll hear the infamous ring, but you won't hear my shout out and thank you to Andrea and the SBDC.
If I had remembered to cut the phone, this is what you would have heard...
Small business powers America.
99.9% of all firms are small businesses. Out of 29.6 million bussinesses, all but 19,000 are small businesses.
98.5% of all manufacturing companies in the US are small businesses. 3/4 of all manufacturers have less than 20 employees.
About half of all employees work within the small business sector.
Currently, we are living in an unprecedented time. The pandemic has challenged all communities and enabled our society to approve multiple stimulus packages and pass multiple disaster loans with the hope to help and save businesses.
Helping businesses is the work of SBDC. In light of all that has happened, how is right now the appropriate time to abandon NH's best small business advocate and support system. In 2019, the SBDC advised 932 clients which represented $147M of NH's economy.
They are the business stimulus package, when all of the current funding programs dry up.
Andrea and SBDC,
I can never thank you enough for everything you have done and continue to do for my business, the businesses in my community and those that you will help cultivate into choosing Franklin in the future.
Cited small business facts.