HUDSON — After a record year of business growth, the Columbia Economic Development Corporation is offering a course to educate current and potential small business owners.

The CEDC is set to offer its eight-session microbusiness program directed at those considering entrepreneurship starting this month.

In the eight-county Capital Region last year, 9,465 applications to form a business were submitted to the Internal Revenue Service — a 3.2% increase over the previous year. Greene and Schenectady counties led the region in growth, with 17.9% and 19.7% increases, respectively, according to the Center for Economic Growth. Columbia finished third with 8.4% growth.

The study examined U.S. Census Bureau data that evaluated how many businesses asked the IRS for an Employer Identification Number, a unique number assigned to businesses for tax reporting. The study defines “businesses” as corporations, partnerships, nonprofits and sole proprietorships.

“The MicroBusiness Seminar Series provides the tools and education necessary to develop not only a business plan but a strong sense of business leadership,” CEDC President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said in a statement. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be coached by a dynamic and supportive team of local professionals.”

Business Development Director Martha Lane said participants in the program last year included people who moved to Columbia County because of the pandemic and people who were exploring entrepreneurship after losing their jobs.

“I think people were almost waiting for this opportunity in a way — they didn’t plan to lose their jobs, but it happened and they’d always wanted to start their own business. And then I think there were others that were sort of forced into it, they lost their job and couldn’t find anything comparable and so started to work with us and attended the class specifically so they could figure out if this was the right path,” Lane said.

The course runs from Sept. 18 to Nov. 16 with meetings once per week on Tuesday nights. Lane said applications should be submitted by Sept. 10, and space is limited as the session plans to be in person.

The program costs $175, but cost is refunded once a participant completes the course, Lane said.

“It’s really just an incentive to keep people there. We want to find people that are committed,” Lane said. “And so they pay $175, we refund that at the end in either the form of a one year membership in the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce or a gift card to Staples.”

Scholarships and financial assistance are also available, she said.

Session topics range from financing a business, writing a business plan and marketing, among others, according to the CEDC, and include local professionals as guest speakers.

Lane said the experience of participants ranges from being in the idea stage to already having a business plan and beyond.

“There’s always something I think that that people can learn from taking this course, And it doesn’t matter really what your background is — there’s always some new information out there,” Lane said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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