SCORE East Central Iowa Wins National SCORE Chapter of the Year Award
Cedar Rapids, IA ─SCORE, mentors to America’s small business, honors SCORE East Central Iowa for exceptional small business service to entrepreneurs. SCORE East Central Iowa earned the highly-recognized National SCORE Chapter of the Year award due to their excellent client satisfaction, exceptional growth in serving entrepreneurs, and successful community outreach.
SCORE Eastern Iowa District Director Richard Weeks and Chapter Chair Gregory Tomsic were honored by SCORE and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) during National Small Business Week 2011 in Washington, D.C.
East Central Iowa SCORE grew its total services, including mentoring and workshops for small business owners and entrepreneurs, by 93%. The chapter’s follow-on mentoring alone improved 44% over last year. Additionally, volunteer membership grew 53% from last year.
Over the past year, the chapter formed a partnership with the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce creating the “Business Long Term Recovery Program (BLTR)”; a new national model for Disaster Recovery and Revitalization. This program provides face-to-face, hands on assistance to the hundreds of small businesses affected by the disastrous floods that struck their region in 2008. Even though businesses continued to struggle in 2010 because of lingering effects of the flood and due to global recession, SCORE East Central Iowa rose to the occasion by providing advice, guidance and continuing support to small businesses in area communities, enabling them to recover, post disaster and post-recession.
To demonstrate the impact this chapter has had on small businesses, here are just a few client success stories:
In 1988 professional cleaner Linda Jack followed her passion and bought a flower business from her previous employers. Over the last 20 years Linda and her specialty store, Flower Connections have seen many businesses in the community close their doors due to the influx of national chain stores moving in with similar low quality products and cheaper prices. Linda was not going to lose this battle. In 2005, Linda was matched with fellow business woman and SCORE mentor Kathy McArtor. With the help of SCORE, Linda did whatever it took to ensure the success of Flower Connections. She had open houses, half price sales when necessary, and continued to vary the store’s inventory. Now, she offers personal items, such as lotion, jewelry, purses and some clothing. Thanks to her focus and will to succeed, along with help and advice from SCORE mentor Kathy, Linda is excited about the future success of Flower Connections and “selling happiness” for a long time to come.
Cookie Vanous, President of Czech Feather & Down Company in the historic Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, felt the post 9/11 drop in tourism was putting unwanted pressure on the success of her business. Cookie contacted SCORE East Central Iowa in 2005 for marketing advice and began meeting with SCORE volunteer John Ruth, a former CEO of the Amana Society. With John’s help, Cookie put together a more comprehensive marketing plan that has helped Czech Feather & Down gain exposure and produce greater sales.
Chuck Murphy, owner of Test Prep Seminars, started his business in 2002. With the help of SCORE volunteers Jim Finerty and Jim Burns, he was able to grow his business and sell it profitably in 2009. Chuck is now helping other small businesses as a SCORE mentor.
SCORE CEO Ken Yancey says, “The SCORE East Central Iowa chapter has made a significant impact on the success of the small businesses in their area. Through the hard work of each individual volunteer, small business owners were able to achieve their goals to start up, grow and create jobs.” Yancey adds, “SCORE East Central Iowa is a national leader, exemplifying how SCORE provides services and resources that benefit entrepreneurs. We salute SCORE East Central Iowa volunteers for their passion, service and excellence.”
Learn more about SCORE East Central Iowa at http://eastcentraliowa.score.org.
Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 9 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and workshops. More than 13,000 volunteer business counselors in 364 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses.
For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800/634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org. Connect with SCORE at www.facebook.com/SCOREFans and http://twitter.com/SCOREMentors.
Bridget Weston Pollack