Recognizing that Carbon is a county of small businesses, local agencies are offering help for budding entrepreneurs with a workshop series on getting started in business.

The Realities of Entrepreneurship and Getting Started will be offered twice: Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 18. This first workshop provides an overview of the basic components of taking your business from an idea to developing a business plan and starting up.

There are seven workshops in the series. Classes are held at Carbon County CareerLink, 69 Broadway, Jim Thorpe. All sessions are free. There is a fee for a workbook.

"This is an opportunity for those interested in developing a business in Carbon County to be exposed to all the various service providers that support entrepreneurship in Carbon County," said Dawn Ferrante of the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation.

The CCEDC is taking the lead in helping to create a stronger culture of entrepreneurship in Carbon County by partnering eight agencies that serve Carbon County businesses: the Small Business Administration, Carbon County CareerLink, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Lehigh Valley SCORE, the Small Business Development Center at Wilkes University, the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, and the Carbon County Career and Technical Institute Adult Education.

"An important part of economic development for Carbon County is developing an environment that supports individuals who have an idea or a product and want to start their own business," Ferrante said. "We, as a community, have struggled to provide services that enable individuals to do that. We hope to begin to change that by offering these workshops."

The two-hour workshops are:

1. The Realities of Entrepreneurship and Getting Started

Friday, June 3 from 1-3 p.m., or Saturday, June 18 from 9-11 a.m.

The balance of the workshops are given from 6-8 p.m.

2. Developing a Business Plan - Tuesday, June 21

3. Financing Your Business - Thursday, July 7

4. Marketing Your Business - Thursday, July 21

5. Accounting, Bookkeeping and Taxes - Thursday, August 4

6. Legal Issues - Thursday, August 18

7. Human Resources - Tuesday, Sept. 6

The staff is led by Ed Kowalczyk of Wilkes University's Small Business Development Center, and Richard Warner of Lehigh County Community College's Business Enterprise Center, Dawn Ferrante of the CCEDC, Michael Kane of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gary Wentz and Curt Evans of PA CareerLink in Carbon County, with support from Carbon County Career and Technical Institute's Adult Education Program, Lehigh Valley SCORE, and the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.

"Carbon County has a total of 1,158 businesses with less than 50 employees, or about 97 percent of all businesses. Over half of these businesses have less than five employees," Ferrante noted, citing a report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

"I am a thorough believer in entrepreneurship," said LCC's Wagner. "It is exciting and energizing. We need to get the word out to the public that there are great opportunities for startup businesses."

"We have great small businesses in Carbon County," noted Wilkes University's Kowalczyk. "A lot of times, entrepreneurs have great services and ideas but they are not strong in the operation of a small business. That's where the service providers in this program can be of assistance to make them successful."

"One of the largest challenges that entrepreneurs face is access to capital," added SBA's Michael Kane. "I'm putting on a program to bring together a variety of different lending institutions to talk about what they have to offer."

Gary Wentz of CareerLink added that this is a response to the unemployed who have come to his agency looking for help in getting off the employment/unemployment roller coaster and starting their own business.

For additional information or to register, email: lindarex@carboncounty.net, or call: (570) 325-2810. Classes are held at Carbon County CareerLink, 69 Broadway, Jim Thorpe. Street parking is available as well as the Carbon County parking lot next to the Jim Thorpe train station.