The following is our letter submitted to the House Finance Division 1 and Senate Finance Committee members in support of the restoration of funding to the NH Small Business Development Center:
Dear Honorable Members of the House Finance – Division 1 and Senate Finance Committees:
I am writing to you to express my support for continued state funding of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NH SBDC) as a line item in the Department of Business and Economic Affairs’ (BEA) budget and to respectfully request the restoration of NH SBDC’s funding to a minimum of $440,000 per year in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
I have practiced as a business law attorney in New Hampshire for almost 15 years and have advised hundreds of startups and small businesses during that time. It is no exaggeration to state that most of those businesses have been clients of the NH SBDC at some point and I can state unequivocally that the NH SBDC is an unrivaled and necessary part of New Hampshire’s startup and small business community.
We all know that small business is the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy and that New Hampshire entrepreneurs, both inside and outside of the technology industry, do not have the same access to capital in as in other markets, such as Boston. This reality makes it even more important that small businesses spend their resources carefully in order to enhance their chances of success. Over the years, I have come to rely on NH SBDC team members to provide business support services and connections to my clients that exceed the scope of services that I provide. I regularly encourage clients to meet with NH SBDC advisors. They frequently report back and express great appreciation in having such experts take time to help them better understand their business plan, pricing strategy and target markets. The NH SBDC’s loss of funding would not only jeopardize its very existence but would leave NH businesses significantly disadvantaged as they try to compete in regional, national and global markets.
No other small business resource provides such breadth of knowledge through both its regional advisors and its online content and classes. Warren Daniel, the Seacoast Regional Director, is a ‘go to’ advisor for clients in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Andrea O’Brien, Business Sustainability & Business Advisor, is a knowledgeable and tireless champion for clients in the environmental and renewable energy fields. Julie Glosner and Hollis McGuire provide invaluable advice to a varied group of clients from Nashua through the Merrimack Valley, with particular expertise on raising capital through angel investment. Heidi Edwards Dunn, Education & Communication Director drives online and in-person content development. Each of these individuals has particular knowledge in certain areas and they all work together collaboratively and seamlessly to serve all businesses of New Hampshire.
When federal COVID relief funding became available through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the NH SBDC mobilized both their advisors and their online resources with tremendous swiftness to learn the nuts and bolts of the program and to provide live, online webinars in partnership with the Small Business Administration’s district office multiple times every week to help New Hampshire business navigate the application process for this funding opportunity. At a time when I was fielding calls about the PPP program on a daily basis last Spring and guidance on the program was changing weekly, I cannot express how grateful I was to be able to provide clients with information about NH SBDC’s webinars, knowing that they would be receiving timely and accurate information. The NH SBDC’s response in supporting New Hampshire small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis has been unparalleled and is just one small example of their dedication and talent in supporting our small business community. Their work needs to continue.
Finally, in making the tough decisions that no doubt are involved in developing the State budget, I would caution you against making the assumption that the private sector will come to the rescue in supporting the NH SBDC’s ongoing operation. We saw what happened in 2010 with the Women’s Business Center (WBC) when it could no longer raise local funds through dues and other donations to match its federal grant and closed its doors. We also saw Southern New Hampshire University attempt to fill the WBC’s role by obtaining its own SBA grant funding in 2012 only to see its Center for Women’s Business Advancement close upon the end of its initial five-year grant. I am also aware of an out-of-state non-profit that specializes in providing small business support to minority business owners that has spent the better part of two years trying to obtain municipal and community support to bring its program to Southern New Hampshire. It has been seeking to secure commitments for funding of $300,000 annually for its first three (3) years of operations. To date, it has been able to secure enough commitment to fund those first three years. If experience with small business support programs in New Hampshire tells us anything, it is that the private sector is not able to sustain these programs on its own. Loss of funding from the State would mostly certainly bring about the end of the NH SBDC, if not immediately, then at some point in the not-too-distant future.
For these reasons, I, again, respectfully request the restoration of NH SBDC’s funding to a minimum of $440,000 per year in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 as a line item in Department of Business and Economic Affairs’ (BEA) budget. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Kristin A. Mendoza, Esq.