SI SBDC Awarded for Excellence and Innovation

The Staten Island SBDC was presented with the Excellence and Innovation award at a ceremony at the US SBA headquarters.

SI SBDC Receives 2017 Small Business Development Center for Excellence and Innovation Award for the New York District and Region II by the U.S. SBA

The Staten Island Small Business Development Center  (SBDC) has been selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2017 Small Business Development Center for Excellence and Innovation Award Winner for both the New York District as well as SBA’s Region II, which includes all districts in New York State, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The award was presented to the College of Staten Island (CSI) team at a ceremony in the US SBA headquarters in Manhattan.

The award honors an SBDC service center for excellence in providing value to small businesses and advancing program delivery and management through innovation. New York SBDC State Director James King congratulated the Staten Island SBDC staff by commenting, “Since there are only 10 nationwide regional winners, this signifies that your team is one of the 10 best among 1,000 centers throughout the country”. SBA Regional Administrator (Region II) Alfred Titone congratulated the Staten Island SBDC by stating, “I commend you and your staff for the outstanding support and services that your center provides entrepreneurs throughout the region. This is a remarkable accomplishment and I would like to acknowledge the great contributions you are making on behalf of small businesses and entrepreneurs in your community, as well as to the economic development of New York.”

“We are honored to receive this recognition on not only a state level but a regional level as well,” stated Director Dean L. Balsamini. “The staff consists of a talented group of professionals who deliver extensive services to our clients and have a strong passion for serving the community.”

The Staten Island SBDC is one of 24 centers in the New York State Network of America’s SBDCs. Team members include Director Dean L. Balsamini; Office Manager Megan Ernst; Certified Senior Business Advisors, Edward Piszko and George Telmany; Business Advisors, Christine Purelis, Joseph Bottega, and Joseph Muller; and Student Intern, Cecilia Alva.

New York SBA District Director Beth Goldberg pointed out that more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business. “Small businesses are economic engines that create nearly two out of every three new jobs each year. Small businesses support our neighborhoods and strengthen our communities.”

Nearing their 25th anniversary, the Staten Island SBDC has assisted more than 8,100 businesses, helping them invest more than $174 M in the area’s economy, and creating or saving more than 5,400 jobs.

Dean L. Balsamini accepts the Excellence and Innovation Award.

With the state-wide adaptation of an “it’s all about the client” mantra, the Staten Island SBDC assesses and determines the needs of the community by keeping open relationships with resource partners and clients. The center has an excellent campus partner at the College of Staten Island that supports the SBDC mission to provide education, entrepreneurship, and economic development. The Staten Island SBDC contributes towards enhancing the College footprint. The team is highly involved with the newly launched CSI Technology Incubator, which fosters the innovative drive for high tech entrepreneurs in NYC.

“The Staten Island SBDC consistently drives forward and enhances the knowledge base to the small business community, especially through marketing and social media activities”, stated Director Balsamini. The advisors provide opportunities to established businesses and start-ups who need support such as marketing, financial projections, staffing, and sustainability. Different types of services include MWBE certifications and BidLinx, which certifies eligible businesses to apply for federal, state, and city contracts.

The awards will be presented to the Staten Island SBDC and other award winners at the U.S. SBA New York Headquarters on May 1st 2017 during National Small Business Week.

The New York SBDC provides customized solutions through advisement, education, research and advocacy for Entrepreneurs, Innovators and the Small & Medium Enterprise community.

If you are looking to start a business or need assistance with your existing business, contact the Staten Island SBDC to make an appointment with a business advisor. Visit their website or join their e-mail list to stay up to date with the latest news and local events.



Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication Provides Employment for CSI Students, Receives Official State Charter

(From left to right): Arlinda Draga, Miriam Mishkin, Samir Farag, Samantha Harris, and Alvin Cheriyan at the Museum.

As the College of Staten Island celebrates its 60th anniversary, another historical Staten Island organization, with ties to the College, celebrates success.

It has been announced that The Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication of New York (MMNCNY) has been recognized by New York State’s Department of Education, receiving an official state charter as of July 2016. The Museum is a participating host site to the CUNY Service Corps for the 2016-2017 academic year and has taken part in previous years through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at CSI.

CSI student Alvin Cheriyan ‘18 works as a Web Specialist, focusing on developing the Museum’s Social Media platform through outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as updating the Museum’s Website. Cheriyan, a Computer Science major, is also working on an app design to showcase specific maritime equipment and allow prospective visitors to preview the Museum prior to their visit.

“The plan is to increase the visitors’ knowledge about maritime history and equipment, while also creating interest in wanting to visit the museum. The goal is also to make the Maritime Museum more engaging and interactive for today’s youth,” noted Cheriyan, adding that, “With my skills and intuition, I plan on helping the Maritime Museum become better known to every generation, and the experience has helped me greatly increase my technical, networking, and social skills.”

CSI Accounting major Miriam Mishkin ’17, who has been working on bookkeeping and even grant writing and research for the Museum, said she has learned a lot during her time there, improving skills like using accounting software.

“It has been a great experience so far,” commented Mishkin.

Museum founder and Chairperson Samir Farag, who is also the CSI Foundation Board President, expressed his enthusiasm for the Museum’s place in Staten Island’s rich history.

“Getting this charter was very important not just for the Museum, but for the community. The Museum’s mission is to teach the history of a great industry that boomed on Staten Island and the State of New York years ago with an emphasis on the technological evolution. Technology has drastically changed over the years, and through the pieces in the Museum, you can see the transition from the sextant — the first navigational tool used in the 1800s (and earlier) — to the GPS that is now on our phones, cars, watercraft, and shipping vessels,” said Farag, a New Springville resident originally from Cairo, Egypt, who collected thousands of pieces over the years, many dating back as far back as 1930.

Farag has displayed pieces from his collection in several other locations over the past two years. Currently, he has items at the Staten Island Children’s Museum, the public library in St. George, and in the Working the Waterfront display in the Staten Island Arts headquarters in the St. George Ferry Terminal. Two years ago, in association with the City’s Parks Department, the MMNCNY’s traveling exhibit was showcased at Conference House Park in Tottenville for several months.

The next step in the Museum’s growth is to find a larger, more permanent location for the MMNCNY, according to Farag.



CSI SBDC Receives Full Re-Accreditation

SBDC Staff: (from left to right): Dean Balsamini, Megan Ernst, Christine Purelis, Edward Piszko, George Telmany. Seated: Joseph Muller, Joseph Bottega

After more than two decades of serving the Staten Island community and the College of Staten Island (CSI), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at CSI continues to be an economic anchor in the community, providing resources, training, and one-on-one business counseling, as well as assistance to individuals establishing start-up businesses.

Director Dean Balsamini credits the Center with relentless team work, an intense focus on outreach, and a unique ability to respond to the needs in the local business arena. All of the above surely helped to secure the SBDC’s recent, well-deserved re-accreditation.

The SBDC accreditation process is based on continuous improvement and the National Baldridge Standards of excellence in service. This helps ensure that every SBDC program is continually undergoing self-analysis and growth in a dynamic improvement effort to fully meet the needs of this nation’s small business and entrepreneurial sectors. National Accreditation is a five-year certification that continues through December 31, 2021.

An official letter from New York SBDC State Director James L. King, received after the committee’s official site visit to CSI in August, noted that the core SBDC program, as well as a new special technology program, were “fully accredited without conditions.” King also commended the SBDC on receiving four commendations, pointing out that “it’s very unusual to receive more than two.” The State Director highlighted the Staten Island SBDC’s work in responding to Superstorm Sandy when Balsamini and his staff played a “major role” in establishing the first business recovery center (BRC) in New York City immediately after the storm hit.

Balsamini reviews upcoming events with SBDC staff.

Accreditation is critical for SBDCs and essential for the New York State SBDC program, which is recognized as a consistent provider of high-quality business advisement, resulting in credible economic impact. Accreditation qualifies each SBDC to apply for federal (SBA) funds, administered by the Office of Small Business Development Centers. “When the community thrives, the College thrives,” noted Balsamini. “Economic prosperity is very important, as we all know, and we are working hard on job creation and enrichment. My staff has established strong connections and collaborations in the Staten Island community, and I am proud of our work.”

There are currently 24 SBDC centers in New York State, among the the nation’s SBDC National Network. The SBDC at CSI was established in 1993 and continues to serve the community, as well as the College, reaching out to professors and students at CSI when opportunities for involvement arise. Since their start in 1993, the expert advisors of the Staten Island SBDC have worked directly with 7,850 businesses, helping them to invest $170.1 M in the area’s economy, and create or save 5,100 jobs.

NY State Director King further commented that, “It is our ongoing privilege to partner with CSI in the SBDC program and we all appreciate your leadership and commitment to the economic well-being of all of New York… I would be remiss to not acknowledge the pleasure it is to work with Dean Balsamini and the entire staff of the CSI SBDC. Their professionalism and dedication reflect extreme positivity upon CSI and the program.”

Staten Island Business Receives National Honor

Maryann Piazza (second from right) receiving the Phoenix Award in Washington, DC

Despite a devastating hit to its business, one Staten Island company never lost its majesty and grace. The Staten Island Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island is proud to announce that one of its clients, Majestic Vending and Services, Inc., is the winner of the prestigious National Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery is given to the business owner whose efforts and contributions have enabled their business to recover successfully and thrive following a disaster. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Associate Administrator for Disaster Assistance James Rivera presented the Award at a ceremony during Small Business Week in Washington, DC on May 3.

Majestic Vending and Services Inc. is owned by Maryann and Stephen Piazza. From its humble beginnings as a simple gumball machine at a construction site, they’ve grown into a company that serves the NYC area with vending machines, coffee and bottled water delivery for offices, and safety gear.

Majestic was victim to significant wind damage suffered during Superstorm Sandy that left the company without inventory or equipment. The severity of the storm caused severe electrical and heating system damage, resulting in losses surpassing $75,000. Although they received some grant support, the Piazzas required assistance not covered by insurance and grants. This advice was sought from the Small Business Development Center at CSI and Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko. Majestic was first assisted in 2005 and required further assistance as a result of Superstorm Sandy, which nearly destroyed the family-owned business.

As Majestic’s long-term mentor, Business Advisor Piszko indicated, “I have known and worked with Maryann and Steve Piazza for many years. They are two of the most tenacious entrepreneurs that I have met. No matter what the challenge put before them, they come up with a solution and are stronger than when they started. Their success is a result of that drive.”

Dean L. Balsamini, Director of the SI SBDC, added, “Maryann and Stephen Piazza certainly exemplify the resilience and courage that the Phoenix Award represents. The business has not only risen up from the ashes of Superstorm Sandy, but has flourished as a result of their tenacity and determination.”

In the face of tragedy, Maryann and Stephen Piazza rebuilt their now flourishing business and also gave back to the community in the process. Maryann is an active member in various organizations such as the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, the SIEDC, and the Staten Island Bucks. Maryann has also been recognized for her significant impact upon the community and has been a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Women in Business of the Year Award, the Small Business Success Award, and others. Majestic greatly participates and gives back to their local community.

Maryann Piazza with Mark Cuban from the TV series Shark Tank

Despite many challenges including the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, Maryann and Steven Piazza have been able to overcome and move on to new horizons. These hardships experienced by Majestic have proven that the Piazzas have not only been able to continue their business but have also expanded and diversified it. In 2014, Majestic was chosen by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee Business Connect as an official participant to prepare and distribute several products and services for the Super Bowl.

NY SBDC State Director James L. King said, “We are extremely proud that a Staten Island SBDC client was recognized from the thousands of small businesses eligible to be the National Phoenix award winner by SBA.  Following a natural disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, it’s often impossible for small businesses to recover and rare to see them emerge as stronger businesses. This recognition displays the commitment and dedication of so many small business owners across New York State and the entire storm track have to succeed, even under the most adverse circumstances.”

SBDC at CSI Director, Balsamini commented, “Our SBDC staff is committed to help businesses in need under any conditions, but especially following a disaster. When a community begins the process of rebuilding, the local small businesses are often at the forefront of recovery, and we appreciate the trust they place in the SBDC to turn to us during these times.”




[video] SBDC at CSI celebrates 20 years of service to the business community

[youtube][/youtube]The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island is well known for providing leadership during many periods of changing economies and unexpected disasters.

Having worked directly with over 6,300 businesses and having created or saved over 4,300 jobs through its consistent service to business leaders for over two decades, the Staten Island Small Business Development Center (SBDC) celebrated their 20 years of service to the local business community.

Back Row, L-R: George Telmany, Mitch Lowell, Christine Purellis,Dean Balsamini, Councilwoman Debi Rose, Robert Rose, Ed Piszko. Front Row, L-R: Mary Hoffman, Elisa Csorba, Eileen Sullivan, Joe Bottega, Ref Sawires.

The SI Small Business Development Center started with one location…now has three.

The Staten Island SBDC is located on the grounds of the College of Staten Island and its Brooklyn satellite office is in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn at a Sovereign Bank office. The Brooklyn satellite office opened two years ago as a result of the Jobs Act. The SBDC at CSI now covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and as of 2013 will begin covering Gravesend. The SI SBDC’s third office, its New Dorp Satellite office, opened in May 2013. This office, at the Empire State Bank branch at 1361 N. Railroad Ave., helps businesses impacted by Sandy get answers and find assistance needed to reopen.

Its steadfast dedication to providing supportive services and counseling to the variety of businesses in Staten Island and Brooklyn has helped these businesses to invest over $ 140 million in the area’s economy. Since 1993 the Staten Island SBDC, a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has demonstrated the ability and wherewithal to address the unique challenges faced by our business community in a speedy and efficient manner.

The SI Small Business Development Center responded to Superstorm Sandy by:

– Establishing a Business Recovery Center (BRC) at CSI
– Hosting the U.S. Small Business Administration in our community
– Presenting workshops
– Counseling approximately 250 businesses and helping them navigate through the system
– Opening a satellite office near the afflicted communities
– Partnering with key community organizations (Chamber, Business Solutions)

The Staten Island SBDC reacted immediately to the needs of local business owners in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, working with governmental entities such as the Federal Small Business Administration to make sure our business leaders – our neighbors – had information on the variety of options available to them to rebuild their businesses. The SI SBDC over the past year has offered a number of Superstorm Sandy related seminars to aid businesses in the aftermath of the storm and recently tapped into the Spanish Community offering seminars in Spanish. The next Workshop offered in Spanish is on October 14th at Northfield Community LDC.

“From being instrumental in assisting with the location of a federal SBA office on the grounds of the College of Staten Island for business owners to interact personally with government administrators, to the opening of a third SBDC location in New Dorp, closer to the Sandy affected communities, the SI Small Business Development Center has proven to be a leader during one of our community’s most difficult times.” said Dr. Michael Kress, VP for Information Technology and Economic Development at the College of Staten Island.

The Staten Island SBDC recognized quickly after Hurricane Sandy that the many governmental agencies that descended upon our borough offering their support and financial recovery programs would not be mainstays in our community forever. The Staten Island SBDC has and will continue to help business owners recover from the storm – connecting them to resources, analyzing how much the storm cost them in lost business, helping them apply for loans, and much more. Through the efforts of SBDC’s director, Dean Balsamini, business advisors from the Federal Small Business Administration were sent to our community aiding businesses with tasks such as filling out SBA disaster loan applications, helping re-create lost financial records, and developing an emergency response plan for businesses.

The SI SBDC at CSI helped approximately 250 Sandy affected businesses.

“Countless times, SBDC has counseled businesses during difficult economic periods helping them to get back on their feet or helping someone make their dream a reality by opening up a new business. Hurricane Sandy is just the immediate and easily identifiable example of this; yet there were other hard times in which the SBDC was there to lend a helping hand, “said Dean Balsamini. “ In 1998 there was the Asian crisis; in 2000 there was the implosion of the Stock Market. As we all know, September 11, 2001 brought with it challenges for so many people in our community. Also, there was the major recession in 2008 and its lasting impact. During all these periods, SBDC assisted a variety of businesses – start- up businesses and businesses with longevity too, “continued Balsamini.

The Staten Island SBDC helps clients understand the importance of a business plan, discover sources of funding, prepare for e-commerce, identify avenues for exporting goods and services, develop marketing plans, assess an invention’s viability, and comply with licensing and regulations. The center offers a variety of workshops (on average 40 a year) covering these topics and more on a regular basis. Individual counselors are available to address these topics one-on-one; each counselor has their own level of expertise and background.

The Staten Island SBDC celebrated their 20 year service anniversary at a meeting at the Grand Oaks Country Club on October 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 P.M. The event was sponsored by Empire State Bank and Sovereign Bank with a business theme – THE THREE E’s: Education, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development.

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