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NCWE Thought Leader Blog - Teresita Wisell
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Supporting Small Business is Our Business

    Tere Wisell
    Vice President Workforce Development and
      Community Education
    Westchester Community College, NY


Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy and provide the bulk of the net new private-sector jobs according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). This explains why after the 2008 recession, national and local governments and industry leaders encouraged a revitalization of the entrepreneurship spirit throughout the US. A new energy emerged, evidenced by the creation of projects like Start-Up America, Start-Up New York and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, among others. Without thriving entrepreneurs and small business owners, our local economies would stagnate.

In its 2018 Small Business Profile, The SBA calculates that small businesses (those with 500 or fewer employees) account for 99.9% of US businesses. Furthermore, truly small businesses – those with fewer than 100 employees – employ 47.8% of the workforce or 58.9 million individuals. Community colleges play a central role in support of entrepreneurship and small business development by providing resources, training and facilities for start-ups to grow their business. Community colleges drive economic development within their local and state service areas and create a healthy eco-system that promotes business growth and expands opportunities for the labor force.

As a leader in workforce development within our county, Westchester Community College plays a key role in contributing to the vitality and growth of our local communities. We remain committed to facilitating growth for start-ups and local businesses that strive to successfully navigate through the growth phase. One such program is our award winning Just Add One program, recognized in 2016 by the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals. Now in its fourth year, the Just Add One Westchester-Putnam program provides supportive services to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The program was developed in collaboration with our local Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, and the county’s leading business organization, The Business Council of Westchester. Offered in a 12-week academy like format, Just Add One assists eligible small business owners to develop strategies that strengthen their operations to make them more efficient and create an environment that promotes their own business growth.

Modeled on the initiative launched by the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) and through our network of partners, the Just Add One program offers tools, strategies and solutions to help them add at least one employee within the year. According to NAWB, the goal of this initiative is to create a “ripple effect.” Adding one employee to a business, strengthens its infrastructure, launches expansion and supports the country’s efforts to reduce the unemployment rate. Participants benefit from a talented team of industry experts who address each aspect of business development, from leadership to employee engagement and retention, succession planning, and much more.

In three years, the program has served 68 business owners representing 62 companies throughout Westchester County. In total, they have hired 75 additional employees. Each year, those companies become stronger and owners continue to network with one another and with the expert instructors and facilitators of the program. Westchester Community College remains committed to provide small businesses with the resources that they need in order to grow and contribute to our local economy.

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