Women's Business Center to open in New London

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New London — Thanks to a grant from the Small Business Administration, the Women's Business Development Council will be opening a Women's Business Center downtown.

This will be the third Women's Business Center in Connecticut as part of WBDC's profile, along with centers in Stamford and Derby.

"Clients have been coming to it from across the state, so we knew there was a need" in eastern Connecticut, said council development director Chris Landino. He said the new office partially is funded through a five-year award from the SBA, including $150,000 through the first year.

Landino said the council will be signing a lease soon. Because the lease has not been signed, and because of grant compliances, he declined to identify the exact location.

The SBA originally announced that the WBDC would be opening the new office in Norwich.

Dorothy Bratchell, chief operating officer of the WBDC, said that "some other opportunities came up, which were more in sync and more aligned with our client base, so we decided to have an office in New London."

According to the WBDC website, the Women's Business Center program "was founded to foster the growth of women-owned businesses by providing access to education, training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities." Topics include formulating a business plan, financial management and marketing.

Bratchell noted that while the centers are targeted toward women, they serve men as well, and men make up 10 to 15 percent of clientele at any given time.

There are more than 100 Women's Business Centers located across the country.

"It's a great time to be a woman entrepreneur," Kathy McShane, of the SBA's office of Women's Business Ownership, said in a news release. "This year marks 30 years of the Women's Business Center program, and the expansion of the new center will provide vital resources to women entrepreneurs."

According to the release, the Women's Business Center program counseled nearly 150,000 entrepreneurs across the country last year.

e.moser@theday.com

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