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CDC offers grants for business planning

August 23, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Got a business idea that won't let go?

The Southern Worcester County Community Development Corp. has some funds that might help make it reality.

"We think a lot of this is about helping people think through a business plan," said CDC Administrator Trish Settles. "Many people have a great idea, and we want to see that flushed out."

Often, she noted, that means simple asking a few key questions to help the prospective entrepreneur identify clients, marketing area and strategies and even whether now is a good time to start. The agency has about $15,000 available for matching grants to "match small businesses with a professional to assist them" in learning various aspects of business law, accounting, marketing and so forth.

According to John Rainey, director of the Mass. Small Business Development Center Network and Clark University, those kinds of skills are crucial, especially in today's economy. Because banks are being very strict on loaning money and are "not willing to make bad deals," such preparation matters.

Banks carefully check what he described as the "Five Cs" — credit history, character (prospect of the business's success), cash flow projections, collateral (often personal homes, but those values have fallen significantly in recent years) and commitment (typically seeking 25 percent personal investment to start) — before loaning funds.

"We saw a real tough economy a year ago, and spent a lot of time on troubled, turn-around businesses," Rainey observed. "Things turned around a bit, but it's starting to slip again. They talk about a double-dip recession, but I'm not sure if that's started yet."

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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