That doesn’t mean the two divisions don’t cross the river to work together frequently and aren’t willing to bow to the desires of which group a client wants to work with on a regular basis, officials from both centers said.
“It’s all up to the client,” said Martin Brill, an international trade specialist based in the Harrisburg outreach office of the Kutztown SBDC. “If the client is more comfortable working with one rather than the other, we can accommodate that.”
The centers are part of a statewide network of SBDCs, and the Pennsylvania centers are part of a national network. All of them work to help potential small-business owners turn their ideas into reality, then help nurture the business to success.
Those kinds of ideas have no geographic boundaries, especially in an area like Harrisburg, where the East Shore and West Shore business communities are strongly tied together.
“Our main goal is not to duplicate the efforts of anyone else,” said Michael Unruh, the director of the Shippensburg SBDC. “We’re here to help businesses get off the ground any way we can.”
Through 2006, the entire midstate area, along with Berks and Chester counties, were part of the Harrisburg SBDC’s geographic reach. But that very large coverage area proved difficult, so the Shippensburg SBDC opened to handle requests from Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, and the Harrisburg office moved to Kutztown.
“We were having trouble handling clients in our counties,” Kutztown SBDC Director Ernie Post said. “It wasn’t a purpose of drawing a line across the river. That just seemed like the easiest way to divide it up.”
When the center was splitting, Unruh was trained at the Kutztown center and got to know the staff and executives there.
“I think that helped immensely in our cooperation, because Mike got to know everyone at the center,” Brill said.
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