With Small Business Week, chambers aim to highlight resources available

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Local chambers of commerce spend 52 weeks of the year advocating for small businesses, but April 29 through May 5 is one of the weeks where they kick it up a notch.

This is National Small Business Week, which the president of the United States has been recognizing with a proclamation every year since 1963.

"It's just a way to bring businesses and people together ... so it's good for personal development as well as for their business," said Angela Adams, director of operations for the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce.

In terms of Small Business Week activities across the state, the Connecticut District Office of the Small Business Association is most involved with the Norwich Chamber events, said Anne Hunt, district director.

"There is so much free service out there available to small business owners," Hunt said, "and most of them do not know anything about what is available."

The schedule kicks off Monday with two free workshops at Foundry 66: "Take Control of Time," led by Jim O'Shea of Achievement Unlimited of CT, and "Multiple Generations in the Workplace," led by Collins & Jewell Company human resources director Ralph Watson.

Lisa Wood, of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, and SBA economic development specialist Lisa Powell are presenting two live webinars on Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. The first is on government contracting and the second is on qualifying as a woman-owned business.

Other free workshops throughout the week — a full schedule is available at bit.ly/GNACCevents — focus on human resources, public speaking, Facebook and tax tips. Events are open to anybody, not just Chamber members.

At a $10 workshop and buffet lunch at the Yantic River Inn on May 4, an SBA economic development specialist is one of six speakers scheduled to discuss resources to help small businesses grow.

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut is taking a different approach to National Small Business Week.

Matt Levy, marketing and communications coordinator for that Chamber, explained that staff will be going out to spotlight small businesses that have been active in their communities for a long time.

This will involve giving away certificates for free advertising in the Chamber's publications, and sharing photos from the visits on social media. The Chamber also will be writing a blog post at the beginning of the week, discussing the importance of shopping small.

Chamber President Tony Sheridan said staff will be doing as much as they can to highlight businesses in competitive markets.

"These are the people who hire our friends and neighbors," he said of small business owners. "They're the people who pay property taxes on their buildings, they have bricks and mortar in the community, which in turn finances our police, our fire, our schools."

e.moser@theday.com

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