The business-mentoring program SCORE is serving as a catalyst for economic growth across the country by helping small businesses create jobs, says a new Gallup survey.
SCORE helped create more than 68,000 new businesses and 30,000 jobs last year, according to the survey of its clients, which was conducted from April through June.
Information on the local chapter is at score-sandiego.org.
One local business that has used the organization's mentoring services is the North Park neighborhood restaurant Urban Solace. Business partners Matt Gordon and Scott Watkins, who have a combined 40 years of restaurant experience, needed help with drafting a business plan. "We were a little lost in what a bank or investors would truly be looking for," Gordon said.
The SCORE mentor helped them refine their plan and obtain a bank loan. The restaurant opened in 2007. Specializing in "comfort food" made with local ingredients, it has exceeded revenue goals by 58 percent. The owners are planning to open another restaurant in Encinitas next year. Gordon said he still calls his SCORE mentor from time to time.
"The thing about them is, I don’t have to speak with them very often but when I need advice, they're there," he said.
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow and succeed nationwide. Its programs are funded by the federal Small Business Administration, with a $7 million appropriation last year. The organization relies on working and retired executives and business owners to volunteer as mentors.
Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE, praised the 13,000 volunteers at the 350 U.S. chapters of the organization.
"They're doing this because they want to, not because they get paid to do it," he said in an interview this week. "Since they're not getting paid, they have the ability and the willingness not only to listen carefully, but also to ask the right questions."
The survey also found:
- The group mentored nearly 180,000 aspiring and current small business owners last year, an 11 percent increase from 2008.
- 61.8 percent of clients surveyed said that they changed their current business strategies after meeting with SCORE counselors.
- For every dollar of federal funding, the SCORE clients paid $107 in federal taxes.