SYLVANIA - Charlotte Johnson is a business development specialist from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Atlanta district office. On Thursday she came to Sylvania to answer questions and offer advice as guest speaker for a "Lunch & Learn" seminar aimed at small business owners.
The Screven County Chamber of Commerce was host for the event and Sylvania's branch of Ogeechee Technical College provided the use of their facility.
Both Sylvania Mayor Margaret Evans and County Commissioner Stan Shepherd gave welcome to Johnson, who conducted the seminar, offering answers to many questions throughout the two-hour class.
"Small business owners must consider the needs of the people in the area," Johnson said, "because they will be your customers."
Johnson emphasized the importance of having a thorough plan before starting a small business and gave several resources for drafting a successful plan.
She discussed the "5 C's of Credit," including capacity, capital, collateral, conditions, and character.
"Credit builds character," she said.
A good credit score is at the top of the list for what lenders consider, she said.
The role of the Small Business Administration, she said, is to provide a guarantee against loss to the lender, thereby enabling the lender to make loans they may not otherwise make.
Chamber executive director Heidi Jeffers said she was pleased with the turnout who participated in the seminar.
Johnson recognized the importance of the Chamber in helping small businesses in counties like Screven. She considers it the primary vehicle for delivering such seminars as this one, and both Jeffers and Johnson indicated plans for classes of similar topics in the near future.
"We support small businesses and realize their importance because that is where most new jobs come from," Evans said.
"Small businesses are the anchor of Main Street," she said.
An abundance of resources await the small business owner, Johnson said, including various websites as well as local small business development centers.
The closest center can be found in Statesboro at Georgia Southern University, where management and technical assistance can be found.
"Networking is key," Johnson said.
Also, she suggested visiting www.bplans.com or www.sba.gov for help with a business plan. The administration's website also has many additional helpful resources for small business owners, she said.