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JCC Small Business Center Director Shares Success And Challenges

With small businesses serving the backbone of the American economy, Chautauqua County officials learned about what one agency is doing to assist them.

Courtney Curatolo from the Jamestown Community College’s Small Business Center spoke at the county legislature’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting Wednesday.

Curatolo, who is the center’s director, said they are much busier this year than last. “In this current fiscal year that we’re in (which ends Sept. 30) we’ve already worked with a hundred clients more than we did last year,” she said. “Our goal was help support 2,000 jobs in Chautauqua County. We are at over 3,700 jobs in Chautauqua County.”

So far they’ve had 490 clients this year, about 100 more than their original goal. They also helped start 47 new businesses.

“We have helped impact funding at $7.5 million since Oct. 1. A lot of that has been since March 15 when the COVID crisis started. Since March 15 we have helped 396 businesses in Chautauqua County and we’ve helped save over 900 jobs,” she said.

The center has also helped county businesses with the Paycheck Protection Plan of approximately $6.3 million since March15.

The center was recently awarded some federal funds to add staff to the Small Business Center. Curatolo wants to use the new staff to help small businesses that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Committee chairman Mark Odell thanked Curatolo for her hard work. “The numbers are trending in the right direction and under your leadership we expect to see quite a bit more,” he said.

Odell asked Curatolo for what’s next. She noted the center has had a number of individuals who came in over the last three to four weeks that want to start a small business. At the same time, there are number of businesses that are looking to shut down for four to six months because they just can’t stay open during this crisis. “I am in the process of doing a lot of research for different grants for some of these businesses because a lot of them just cannot take on any more loans at this point,” she said.

She also said they are helping county businesses apply for the paycheck protection forgiveness application. “We’re working with a lot of our clients to ensure all of the funding they’ve received from the PPP program remains forgivable so they do not have to pay that back,” she said. She added that those who do have to pay back the PPP loans will be able to do so at a very low interest rate.

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