Community Action Grant Aims To Help Small Businesses

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A Northwest Ohio community action group is in the process of identifying Appalachian Ohio-based companies that will receive technical assistance as part of a grant program.

The Governor's Office of Appalachia has recently awarded the WSOS Community Action Commisison with the $50,000 grant from the State Appalachian Development Program.

The grant will help provide technical business assistance to 12 second-stage companies in a total of 14 counties; some of them being Jackson, Jefferson, Meigs, Pike, Scioto and Morgan counties.

WSOS Community Development Director Deb Martin says that a second-stage company is one that has between 10 and 99 employees and has $1 million or higher in sales.

Martin explains that this grant will not go toward businesses just starting out, but rather target companies that are trying to grow.

"There is really a lack of information when companies get to a certain stage where they are ready to grow, and yet they aren't large enough to really have their own internal staff," says Martin.

Martin says the initial meetings with the economic development teams in each county are being conducted.

The next step is to work with the counties in picking the companies that will receive this assistance.

"We intend to rely on the economic development people in each of those counties to identify the businesses because they know their businesses far better than we would," says Martin.

The program will partner with the national center created for economic gardening.

Once the businesses are picked, the national team will provide the resources that are needed for each company.

Martin says the national center was created in Colorado in the 1980s and saw a lot of success, so it expanded and partnered with the Edward Lowe Foundation in Michigan.

Martin says that the employees at WSOS in Ohio will go through a training program that will help them assist in this economic gardening process.

This program is a one-year pilot project.

Martin says that the program hopes to help businesses become more successful and create more jobs.

"Then if that's successful and if we can go through this training process with the national center, then we are hoping that eventually we wont need the national center and Ohio can have it's own program," says Martin.

Martin explains that if the program is successful this year, they will apply for another grant next year and complete the process again.