Small business survey on its way to gauge needs

Editor’s note: This story is part of the CDT’s Business Matters special section.

Businesses need more than just customers to grow — they need things like resources, investors and access to facilities.

An opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to identify the gaps in the economy of the county is coming thanks to the Penn State Small Business Development Center.

A new survey is aimed at the small businesses of Centre and Mifflin counties, center Director Heather McWhorter said. All small businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to respond and report their impressions on the business ecosystem of the region.

The survey is coming on the heels of a recent report by the Centre Foundation, McWhorter said. As the SBDC helps entrepreneurs in the community, she said it was time to reach out to them.

“We provide free and confidential assistance to (small businesses),” she said. “But we can only help so many, so I felt it was time to stand back and look at the entrepreneurship and economic development ecosystem as a whole.”

The SBDC has been working hand-in-hand with its partners — such as Penn State, Ben Franklin Technology and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County — to find gaps in the needs of small business owners, she said.

“It’s maybe time to ask the business community as a whole,” McWhorter said, “and not just people we have in our Rolodexes, is there anything missing they need for their business to be successful.”

The questions in the survey will be confidential, she said, but plan on delving into a few different factors. First, entrepreneurs will be asked to rate different resources and how important they are to the success of a business.

Second, McWhorter said, they will rate their area on ability to access those resources. From there, the SBDC can work on improving access that isn’t available.

The ultimate goal, she said, is to keep business moving forward.

“Since a lot of us have worked in this area for so long, we have a feeling for what’s needed,” she said. “I think it’s time we hit the pause button and see if there’s anything missing.”

According to market research, the final touches are being added to the survey, McWhorter said. It will then be sent out through resources like the Centre Region Entrepreneur Network, CBICC and Centre County Commissioners.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews