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Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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On an average day, Trina Worrell Benjamin handles invoices, returns calls and emails, directs a team of nearly a dozen employees and manages a client roster that has included big names like Rite Aid and Toys“R”Us. She admits her first steps into entrepreneurship were not easy. But with the help of…

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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Community First Fund Awards Kutztown University SBDC for Loan Referrals and Business Support

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Kutztown University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was one of the organizations to receive top honors from the Community First Fund during its annual awards program.

The Kutztown University SBDC received the James Hyson Advocate Award for its work as a community partner that provides loan referral and business support services for Community First Fund clients.

In a video shown at the ceremony, Kutztown SBDC highlighted the story of a client, Super Natural and Fresh Produce, located at 1350 N. 12th St. in Reading.

Sonya Smith, assistant director, said the center worked with Community First Fund to get the store a loan and provided support and training. The center bridges the gap for small and startup businesses such as Super Natural & Fresh Produce, Smith said.

“This (award) was really great for the center to be recognized,” said executive director Ernie Post. “I want to thank Community First Fund for making capital and financing available to those who want to pursue the entrepreneurial dream.”

More than 500 business and community representatives and fund supporters attended the event, which featured a keynote presentation from Fox News commentator and former National Public Radio journalist Juan Williams.

Dan Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First, discussed the need for all cities and counties in the region to include those living in poverty in their future economic development plans. Reading figured prominently throughout the event in Lancaster. He urged the change makers in each community to work together to create prosperity. Betancourt noted that pursuing a new golden age for central Pennsylvania cities presents challenges.

Juan Williams, the keynote speaker, said real leaders are the ones who don't talk about managing change, but shaping changes. They create outcomes that are not just personally profitable, but rewarding for the whole community. Charter schools such as I-LEAD are an example of a shift in education that is shaping opportunities.

The Kutztown University SBDC is part of a statewide network of 18 SBDCs that serve all 67 counties of the Commonwealth.  Kutztown University SBDC serves business owners in Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties.