In Pittsburgh with the goal to fund 100,000 small businesses, Sue Malone is seeking area business owners to assist her in accomplishing that goal. “Pittsburgh has a vibrant feeling. There is a lot of optimism and energy here and that is what entrepreneurism is about,” she said.
|I GOT WHAT YOU NEED—Sue Malone of Strategies for Small Business educates the audience on available funding. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)
Malone, president of Strategies for Small Business is labeled as the “money lady.” Traveling the nation meeting, promoting and funding small business owners, she calculates that through her efforts she has assisted in obtaining 25,000 funded loans in all 50 states. She has also been classified as the number one loan provider in the nation five consecutive years for the Small Business Administration Community Express Loan Program. “My sole mission for the last five years has been to help people obtain access to capital to start or expand their businesses,” Malone proclaimed.
More than 160 people attended a Small Business Works program sponsored by Building Bridges for Business to learn the necessary steps to obtain capital. Malone touched on the sources and types of capital that are available, basic steps and information to apply for a loan, the hidden obstacles in the loan application process and how to overcome them.
“It’s great to have programs like this in the region that helps businesses survive and thrive because it is small businesses that helps this region grow,” expressed Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive. “It is appropriate that Building Bridges is in the city of bridges. “Small businesses are really the lifeblood of our economy and their impact and importance has really been seen in this tight economy. Offering programs like this helps to eliminate the barriers that companies face and empowers and educates them so that they may take advantage of the opportunities that exist.”
Aside from providing information about funding, carrying the theme Tools for Small Business -2012 and Beyond, according to organizers, the recent event was designed to provide resources offering growth opportunities for startups and established small businesses. Resources were provided by the County of Allegheny, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University and Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center all co-sponsors of the program. Resources were also provided by vendors inclusive of banks, business development groups, media outlets, cable and social media venues.
Established in 2010, Building Bridges for Business is designed to provide education and resources for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County entrepreneurs on business growth, promotion, management and to aid individuals hoping to launch a new business. “We want to bridge the valuable resources in Western Pennsylvania with business owners and residents who want to start a business,” said Building Bridges President, Amanda Wodzenski.
“Entrepreneurs and small business owners in Allegheny County under-utilize the resources available to them; in part, because they do not know where to find them,” said Building Bridges founder Linda Handley, whose agency fills the gap between myriad support-providers and the business owners who are looking for help.
“Our goal is to provide entrepreneurs with unprecedented access to local agencies, business contacts and other resources needed to successfully launch and grow a small business. We understand that as business owners they want to ignite growth and profit in a cost effective and efficient way.”
Malone, based in California, said she is an SBA licensed lender but emphasized she does not compete with banks. The programs her company works with are specifically devised by the U.S. Small Business Administration to be quick, modest on paperwork, and reasonably priced. “I work directly with the SBA, as well as SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), Women’s Business Centers, and SBA Small Business Development Centers,” she said.
She called CELP the best product for small business financing because it applies to all members of the business community, inclusive of the low to moderate and rural areas, women, minority, and veteran owned businesses.
Malone said the loan program she is affiliated with is simple and easy ranging from $5,000 to $60,000 with affordable principal and interest payments.
“Compared to other loan providers this loan can be used for start-up or existing businesses, requires no tax returns, financials, business plan or collateral,” she explained.
“My goal is to make you all millionaires,” said Malone, encouraging interested parties to call her at 1-800-995-9434 or e-mail her at info@strategiesforsmallbusinesiness.
Serving as Master of Ceremony for the Small Business Works event, Ed Gainey, State Legislator elect encouraged entrepreneurs and attendees contemplating entrepreneurship to take advantage of the many resources in the room and to network with one another.
“It is about tenacity and going after your dreams,” he said. “No business startup is easy; it takes work to make it work. It all depends on how bad you want it.”
Pointing out long time business owners, Debbie Hickman, Penn Hill Giant Eagle owner, Russell Bynum of Bynum Advertising and Rashad Byrdsong of Community Empowerment Association in the crowd as successful examples, Gainey asked the audience, “How bad do you want it? Will today be the day?”