SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Small businesses comprise about 80 percent of the area’s economy, which is why local businessmen and businesswoman need to work together, according to U.S. Rep. Tom Marino.
“Small businesses need to provide services to each other and network,” Marino, R-Lycoming Township, said.
This is one reason he, along with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Pennsylvania, hosted “Tips from the Pros: Using Technology and Online Tools to Boost Your Small Business,” Friday at the Ramada, near Clarks Summit.
The seminar featured representatives from Microsoft, PayPal, Google and the SBDC, who spoke about the latest products and services offered by those companies and gave tips for businesses to effectively use various forms of technology.
The event started off with an hour of breakfast and networking, during which time attendees were able to learn about resources offered by local organizations, including the Abington Business and Professional Association, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, Metro Action, NEPA Alliance, NEPIRC, PennTAP, SCORE, SBA, The University of Scranton SBDC and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.
Nina Kontz, of Clarks Summit, participated along with some friends with the hope of gaining new perspectives.
The 21-year-old is in the process of starting a new local business called The Wild Reign, which will offer clothing, personal styling and shopping.
“We basically wanted to get perspective and advice from people who have been there and know,” she said.
Another attendee, Shari Kozlowski, of Old Forge, said she came to meet other small business owners and promote her own business, Technology Assistant, which supports small businesses administratively. She explained she teaches everything from how to use a phone to the operation of software.
“I think it’s important for small businesses to support each other, because that’s how we stay in business and grow,” Kozlowski said.
She added it is also important for the owners to keep up with the latest technology that is available, which was another purpose for the event.
Lisa Hall Zielinski, director of The University of Scranton SBDC, explained the center’s clients all do well at what they do, but often need help with various aspects of running a business, such as the use of technology.
“Most of our clients understand that this is something they need to know about, but it’s just so overwhelming,” she said.
Marino said because his wife owns a small business, he sees and understands the challenges small business owners, especially women, face on a regular basis, and he respects them for the hurdles they have to overcome.
“The women I’ve dealt with in small business, they don’t take a back seat to anybody,” he said.
In his closing remarks following the presentations, Marino thanked Zielinski and the SBDC for organizing the event and the business owners for attending.
“People do not realize how much of our economy is successful because of you,” he told the audience.