On July 24 at Trinity-Pawling School, the Pawling Chamber of Commerce (COC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted a roundtable discussion on business growth. The event welcomed numerous area businesses and several media outlets.
Chaired by COC President Peter Cris and SBA Economic Development Specialist Man-Li Lin, the discussion included Sarah Lee, CEO of the Dutchess Business Alliance, and Mary Kay Vrba, President of Dutchess Tourism Inc. Also present were representatives from PCSB, Clancy Moving and Storage Co., Pawling Bread Company, The Shed Haus, the Yarn and Craft Box, Native Landscapes & Garden Center, Just Oil, and Parrino’s Green House, Garden Center, and Florist.
In addition to The Record, media outlets covering the event – and participating in the forum – included Hudson Valley Magazine and Pawling Public Radio (WPWL).
During the discussion, Man-Li Lin explained that by partnering with the SBA, local commerce can benefit from a multitude of valuable services and resources. The SBA can, for instance, assist in crafting a disciplined business plan, as well as in hiring best practices, and training skilled employees. The Administration can also offer financial assistance for new or existing businesses through guaranteed loans made by area bank and non-bank lenders.
“We need to partner with the SBA in this community to educate residents and businesses on these opportunities,” said Peter Cris. “To me, economic development in Pawling should be a given. We have clients who anticipate growth, and are making the community grow.”
The goal of the meeting was to help each business properly identify their target market and communicate their messages to achieve maximum results. This included representatives from each enterprise explaining how they made use of advertising on television, radio, and in print. The impact and effectiveness of social media on commerce was stressed, with an emphasis on targeting demographics specific to each individual business.
The roundtable exchange also allowed each participant to describe the challenges that they face, and how their business model has evolved to meet those challenges. For more established businesses such as PCSB, this included the implementation of competitive rates and fees, as well as introducing online banking apps. Other businesses were anticipating expansion and the challenges that accompany growth. The Pawling Bread Company, for instance, is considering establishing a retail presence on East Main Street in the Village to meet growing demand. Pawling Public Radio is in the process of building a new broadcast tower that will potentially reach 50,000 listeners.
The Chamber and SBA are hoping to make this open forum a regular occurrence to build momentum and expand participation. “This response from the business community demonstrates the need for support from the Chamber, the SBA, and from each other,” said Cris. “We want to help the business community grow; that’s our goal. We look forward to our next meeting.”
Man-Li Lin was optimistic about future events in Pawling. “I have learned a lot today,” said Lin. “Now we can provide a more customized plan for the future. It was really beautiful seeing everyone contribute to the discussion and each other.” The next marketing roundtable is expected to take place in September.