SCORE chapter looks to further diverse, expand services

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Chester and Delaware County SCORE held a business forum at its Malvern lmet-nonprofit123015-01ocation, and plans to conduct more in the coming year.

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Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2015 3:31 pm

Louis Bolling Tribune Correspondent | 0 comments

Chester and Delaware County SCORE is finishing up another year of providing a guiding hand to help current and future business owners, especially among minority groups.

The chapter is an affiliate of the national organization of business volunteers who are dedicated to providing free counseling and educational service to small business owners. For its efforts, the branch received the 2015 Chapter of the Year award.

“We’re excited to bring an expanded level of education and mentoring to businesses in Delaware County,” said Gerald Francis, past chairman of Chester and Delaware County SCORE.

In recent months, SCORE has held several workshops that targeted various ethnic groups and women.

Last month, 14 students successfully completed and graduated an eight-week “How to Succeed as a Latino Entrepreneur” course. The bilingual program was first conducted in 2013 and has been offered each year at the Kutztown University Latino Business Resource Center.

The program is presented in partnership with La Comunidad Hispana, National Penn Bank, Community First Fund, Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Completing this course is a significant achievement for these students and we appreciate their dedication and enthusiasm,” said Horace Scherer, the program’s coordinator. “We look forward to many of these entrepreneurs taking the next step of starting businesses, and we at Chester and Delaware County SCORE will be ready to assist them in their success.”

With a population of more than 500,000, Delaware County offers lots of fertile ground for the organization and its programs. African-Americans own 8 percent of the businesses in the county while women-owned companies make up 28 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

So the business growth and the networking potentials are there.

“I always enjoy meeting new people and connecting with them on social media; especially LinkedIn. The ladies I connected with at the forum might provide a new opportunity for someone in the job-seeker community,” said Lynne Williams, a SCORE volunteer who was a panelist during a women’s business forum.

As director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, Williams said that “many people in the job-seeker community are also interested in exploring entrepreneurship, so that’s why I also love being a SCORE volunteer.”

Besides a regular diet of counseling and workshops, the SCORE chapter will further embrace its partnership with the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce going into the new year.

“The Chamber is excited to be able to offer businesses the resources they need to help them be successful,” Trish McFarland said in a statement announcing the partnership.

McFarland, president of the Chamber, said it was important to have “these business education resources available for members from SCORE in our offices and throughout Delaware County.”