By Luther Turmelle New Haven Register, Conn.
When Theresa DelGreco Cipriani went to launch her Serenity Salon and Day Spa in 2007 at the age of 24, none of the banks she talked with would take her seriously.
But then Cipriani found the Greater New Haven chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. And thanks to the advice give to her by counselors at the organization, Cipriani's Wallingford-based business has 12 employees.
"They worked with us on honing in on our so that it reflected what made us different from other types of salons and spas," she said Friday. "And they set us up with bankers."
SCORE did such a good job matching Cipriani with a banker that she is still doing business with Christopher Earle, vice president of First Niagara Bank, which gave her a loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE. SBA uses SCORE as a resource partner.
Cipriani was honored in 2010 by the Connecticut Small Business Administration's Young Entrepreneur of the year. And on Friday, her success story was one of several highlighted at a luncheon at Gateway Community College to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SCORE as a national organization.
Patricia Sanders, chairwoman for the Greater New Haven SCORE chapter, said the retired executives who serve as counselors for the organization have only one desire: To help others achieve the same success they have achieved.
"Our clients' success is our reward," said Sanders, who is a Branford resident.
As one of the speakers at the event, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said her administration is determined to help small business thrive in the city "because they are the ones that tend to hire city residents." Earlier this summer, the city launched a new office to help businesses owned by women and minorities.
Regional SBA Administrator Seth Goodall said in an effort to get more money into the hands small business owners, the agency has reduced fees on loans under $150,000.
"We've seen progress in landing to underserved markets," Goodall said. "In Connecticut, we've seen a significant uptick in lending to African Americans, as well as Hispanic and women entrepreneurs."