Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
South Sacramento/Elk Grove Hub
Whether you have an idea for a business or you’ve been in operation for decades, at some point you’re going to want some advice. Gene Romagna, a business advisor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), said there are two basic things that all businesses need. One is consulting about the operation of the business, which could include marketing and the employees. The other is the financial side, which could include an infusion of capital or a loan, and one of the biggest backers of loans through local banks is the U.S. Small Business administration, which administers the SBDC. “In order to do that, your business has to be in shape,” Romagna said.
Sinful Treats owner Mariel Black said the opportunity to get free business guidance in Elk Grove instead of driving to Sacramento was too good to pass up. “One of the biggest, most challenging decisions I had to make was starting a business at the beginning of the recession,” she said. “When I started Sinful Treats, I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to do and how far I wanted to take it, but I knew I was going to need a lot of guidance.”
Romagna started advising Black a few years ago, when meeting in person meant Black had to take time from her business and go to Sacramento. She said it would have taken her twice as long to get where she is without his guidance. “I would have taken a lot of left turns and gotten lost without (him) keeping me on track,” she said. Black started the business in her home kitchen more than five years ago. Today, she employs people at her baking facility near Franklin High School, considers Sinful Treats to be a full-service bakery, and is about to launch a line of baking mixes.
An informal launch of another kind occurred in 2015 when Black, U.S. Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), and others cut the ribbon at the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce office, which serves as south Sacramento County’s hub for the SBDC program. The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce last year received the contract to administer the program in eight counties. “Small businesses really are the backbone of our economy,” Bera said. “Partnering with the local chambers of commerce that know our communities so well is going to make this an extraordinary success.” Bera said he and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (DSacramento) voted for funding the SBDC program. Romagna said the program is about creating jobs, retaining jobs, helping businesses grow and increasing their profitability. “Mariel is an incredible example,” he said. “This is what happens when you have people who have a dream and go and work at it. She now employs people. They have a livelihood.”
Romagna said he was in Elk Grove about one day per month before the Sacramento chamber’s involvement. He now meets with business owners in Elk Grove two days a week, and he could see a time when he is in the Elk Grove Chamber office or at client sites more often. “There is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit here,” Romagna said. “The more we are known and the word gets out, we could be here more often.”
SBDC consultations are no charge. To make your appointment, please contact (916) 319-4268.