Small Business Development Centers must be preserved

MIKE HANNA

Lock Haven

I write today in response to an article published in The Express on June 10, titled “County takes stand on business development.”

Clinton County commissioners are correct. The Small Business Development Center is a critical, must-preserve service for the community. I couldn’t agree more.

I have long been a supporter and advocate for adequate funding in the state budget for SBDCs.

In fact, just this week I sent a letter of support to the governor and legislative leaders noting my concerns and expressing my whole-hearted endorsement of SBDC funding in the 2017-18 budget.

Small businesses are a vital source of employment and community service.

I have always believed it is critical for the commonwealth to make smart investments in programs that are proven to support and grow the small business sector.

SBDCs have a record of delivering a large rate of return ($6.56) in new state income and sales tax revenues for every state dollar invested into the program.

This rate of return provides the state with revenue needed to address pressing issues throughout the commonwealth.

Currently, SBDC funding is being merged into the Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance as a specific line-item appropriation in the state budget.

I am highly against this merger, as the funding formula under PREP does not guarantee a specific amount of money for SBDCs.

This approach ultimately lacks transparency and accountability with regards to assuring the responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

I am committed to advocating on behalf of SBDCs during budget negotiations and will continue to do all I can to ensure the critical services offered to small business owners remain available.

(Mike Hanna is state representative for the 76th House District encompassing all of Clinton County and parts of eastern Centre County. On Wednesday, Mike met with SBDC State Director Christian Conroy and the Penn State University SBDC Director Heather Fennessey McWhorter in his Harrisburg office to discuss his support of SBDCs.)

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