Daniel McGrath (above, right), coordinator of SCCTC’s new Business Development Incubator, fields questions about the program from members of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce during a tour of the facility on Jan. 9.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
Members of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce took a look outside the box on Jan. 9 when they traveled to the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) as part of the Chamber’s Business Speaker Series. In addition to being treated to a multi-course lunch prepared by the Career’s Center’s culinary arts students, meeting participants got a look at the new Business Development Incubator that opened in August and toured shops and classrooms associated with other courses of study.
Chamber president Gina Suydam (below) welcomed those in attendance and related that the visit to SCCTC was especially poignant in light of growing concerns among Wyoming County business leaders about a shortage of skilled laborers.
“We hear from employers daily about workforce needs, and many of the open positions are in the trades,” said Suydam. CDL drivers and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are in high demand, and SCCTC offers pathways to both.
SCCTC executive director Dr. Alice Davis (below) described the approach of the Career Center as “contextual learning,” a multi-faceted approach of classroom instruction, problem solving, and opportunities to directly apply acquired skills. She noted that she and other SCCTC administrators are also listening to the needs expressed by business leaders, which led to the recent implementation of CDL training.
SCCTC Business Development Incubator Coordinator Daniel McGrath showed Chamber members the newly fitted room in which small business owners can learn about Quickbooks software, basic website construction and maintenance, and graphic design. “Success if more than having money left in your bank account at the end of the week,” he explained. “Most restaurants fail because people don’t know enough about the business side.”
The original plan with the new program was to conduct small group classes, but administrators quickly realized that the complex schedules of those trying to get new businesses off the ground did not allow for them.
“Many of these people are already working other jobs and couldn’t take a day off work to attend classes,” McGrath remarked. The approach has been modified to working with individuals with specific needs as their schedules allowed.
The SCCTC Business Development Incubator was made possible by a USDA grant, which is available to regional residents at no cost for the time being. Even when the grant funding is depleted, McGrath suggested, tuition will be affordable. Currently, participants include people from Bradford, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.
“A lot of people are surprised to learn that it’s free – and that it’s here,” he stated.
Suydam felt the visit to the school was the perfect compliment to the Chamber’s ongoing efforts to realign its goals to address the needs of its members.
“Kicking off our 2019 speaker series at the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center allowed our business community to see the resources and training offered in our region,” said Suydam. The SCCTC is not only training students and adults for high-demand car eers but also helping entrepreneurs to start or stay in business. The free services, from website development to accounting, offered through this program are a tremendous asset to our small businesses.”