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20 years of "Straight Talk" helps many small businesses


As billionaire Warren Buffett has said: "The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.” That’s essentially what a long-running series of seminars is all about, educating small business owners with an eye toward making their enterprises more profitable.Straight Talk 2016 will celebrate its 20th year when an estimated 400 gather at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on January 23 for a half-day event that focuses on training, counseling and networking.

Franklin Sciortino, director of the Buffalo District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said there will be many learning opportunities.

“You’re going to have the ability to talk to anyone and everyone in Western New York that has anything to do with small businesses,” Sciortino told WBFO. “That would be banks, it would be economic development agencies, small business development centers, our women’s business center. You’re going to be able to talk to people from NAACP, the Urban League. So you’re going to get  in one stop -- under one roof -- more information than you can get if you try to do it a couple years on your own.”

An introductory session that will teach about business plans will begin at 9 a.m. Other seminars will focus on tax and permit issues, veterans assistance programs and SBA lending programs. Financial counseling and networking opportunities will also be offered.

“I would hope that we’re offering something for small business owners that no one else in the country is offering,” Sciortino said. “So I think it’s unique to Buffalo, I think it unique to Western New York, and I’m proud of the fact that my office does this and no other office does.”

Following Saturday’s event, there will be a series of eight business seminars held each Tuesday night over two months at Medaille College.

The first Straight Talk event was staged two decades ago and attracted about 50 people.

“What I was trying to create, and I guess I have after 20 years, is like a one-stop shopping center, whereby anyone that wants to go in the business, or thinking of going in the business, or is in business, and needs help, they can come to the Straight Talk event,” said the long-time director.

The cost of the program is $20 for participants who pre-registering online.  Admission for walk-ins on the day of the event is $25. Student admission is $10 with identification and veterans will be admitted for free. Admission to the weekly business seminars is free for participants of Saturday’s event.  For more information, visit WNY Straight Talk.

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