Small business owners that need to vet their ideas with experienced business executives or get expert help developing business plans have a local organization to turn to. For free.

The Greater Cincinnati Chapter of Service Corps of Retired Executives, better known as SCORE, has 100 volunteer mentors to help existing small businesses and startups grow, said Executive Director Betsy Newman. Mentors are mainly retired executives.

"When people are thinking of starting a business, and they're small, they should immediately think of us," said Newman, who became director of the local SCORE chapter in August.

"The combination of offering free service, but free quality service because of the quality of volunteers, I've been impressed."

This year SCORE, which is affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration, celebrates 50 years since its founding. Both the national organization and local chapter were founded in 1964, Newman said. The nonprofit Cincinnati SCORE chapter is jointly funded by the federal agency, its educational seminars and by donations.

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