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11th annual Straight Talk forum set Saturday

Entrepreneurs and small business owners in Western New York will once again have a chance to get valuable advice on starting or growing companies Saturday, as the U.S. Small Business Administration hosts its 11th annual Straight Talk forum.

The half-day program, sponsored by SBA and the affiliated Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), will be held at the Buffalo Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature an opening seminar on business basics, including writing a business plan, followed by a choice of two of six other hour-long seminars.

Topics include becoming credit worthy, how to apply for a loan, how to be certified, what taxes, permits and licenses are needed, and how to run a home-based business.

There will be a question-and-answer discussion, information booths and ongoing one-on-one business counseling during and after the program.
SBA Administrator Steven C. Preston and Regional Administrator William Manger will attend.

The cost is $15 for registering by today, and $20 at the door. Students can register for $10.

So far, more than 200 people are registered, and SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin Sciortino is expecting about 350, with walk-ins. "A lot depends on the weather," he said.

Sciortino said the program is "unique to Buffalo" among the SBA's 80 offices. "We've tweaked it over the years, so it's really a smooth-running program," he said. "Based on some of the people who have come in years past and are now successful business people, I would say it's been very beneficial."

The conference will be followed by a series of seminars, beginning Feb. 13 and continuing each Tuesday for eight weeks from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The free seminars at the Rev. Bennett Smith Family Life Center on Michigan Avenue will go into detail about starting, running and growing a business.


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