American Samoa Small Business Development Center Receives Chamber of Commerce Award

8/27/2008

Samoa Online ASCC Press Release
August 27, 2008
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

During its first Annual Awards Night this past Friday, the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce presented the American Samoa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) an award for “Support of Business Development”. For Director Herbert Thweatt and his staff, the award marks the first occasion where the SBDC has received public acknowledgement for its many years of encouraging the growth of small businesses in the territory. As Thweatt explained, “We’ve worked with the business community for over four years now, and for an official local organization to recognize us for our effort really means a lot to us.”

The local SBDC, located on the campus of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), began in 2000 but effectively hit its stride after Thweatt assumed the directorship in 2004. Working with its resource partner the U.S. Small Business Administration, the SBDC now provides a wide array of services to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. “As part of our mission,” said Thweatt, “we aim to enhance economic growth and assist individuals in American Samoa by developing entrepreneurial skills among small businesses. We serve the broader business community through counseling, training, research, advocacy, and other resources and activities.”

The SBDC business counselors will help clients who want to start or expand their businesses write business plans and research funding. Clients need only make an appointment with the Center to receive these services free of charge. The Center networks with Bank of Hawaii, Amerika Samoa Bank, and the Development Bank of American Samoa, who will often refer clients to the SBDC to develop a business plan before they apply for a commercial business loan. SBDC also offers various training seminars, such as Grant Writing, Business Start-Up, Customer Service, Marketing for Small Business, Business Licensing, QuickBooks, Korean Language for Small Business, Basic Computer Software for Small Business, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, and MS Access for Database. SBDC charges only a nominal fee for most of these seminars to cover the cost of materials.

Looking over the Center’s 2007 statistics, SBDC counseled 289 clients, played a part in the start-up of 22 new businesses, and helped create 50 new jobs. 186 clients attended one or more of the various seminars offered last year. To find out more about upcoming seminars or to register, visit the SBDC web page at www.as-sbdc.org. Anyone can make an appointment for free business counseling by calling 699-4830 or 699-4834. Besides Thweatt, the SBDC staff consists of Division Manager June Paogofie-Tagomailelagi, Counselor Elaine Baul, and Administrative Assistant Catherine Balauro.

An SBDC mainstay since 2005, Paogofie-Tagomailelagi echoed Thweatt’s gratitude for the recent award from the Chamber of Commerce. “I think receiving the award makes it evident that the job we do yields positive results,” she reflected. “I thank you American Samoa Chamber of Commerce for this recognition.” South Seas Broadcasting Manager Joey Cummings, who served as Committee Chair for the Awards Night, explained that the Chamber of Commerce Executive Board made its selection of award recipients based on ballots received from Chamber members and the general public.

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