Sept. 28, 2004
First Monday, a free program intended to arm people with the knowledge needed to start their own business returns October 4 at HACC, central Pennsylvania's community college.

The first Monday of each month at 9 a.m., HACC opens the doors of its Entrepreneurial Development Center at 349 Wiconisco Street, Harrisburg, to anyone interested in learning more about business formation, financing and marketing. For two hours, participants go through the basics with the help of professional counselors.

In an expansion of the program that began last spring, HACC has opened a second site for First Monday at the Murata Business Center, 453 Lincoln Street, Carlisle, in a joint venture with the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation.

"We explain sources of financing, business planning, state and local registrations, licensing, tax requirements-what is really the detail information of getting the business started," said Mary Anne Van Arsdale, director of HACC's Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. "We go through some of the tough questions that you really have to get out of the way first."

Once convinced they want to move forward, Van Arsdale and her staff continue to work for free with business owners, identifying their needs and counseling them on a one-on-one basis. Currently, they are working with at least a dozen clients that they have been seeing since May. Two have grand openings scheduled for the near future, and several people already are in business.

"What we're hoping to do is catch people at the very beginning, when they first have the business concept," she said. "A lot of times people find service providers half way down the path when starting a business. It is helpful to meet with people when they have the concept. You can do some research with them and help them determine whether the business will be profitable for them."

If Van Arsdale and her staff of 11 full- and part-time experienced counselors cannot provide the services needed, they refer the business owner to the appropriate service provider.

"I have counselors whose expertise is in business planning, marketing, accounting, management, legal issues and more. If we can't help them, we know what the resources are, and we refer them," said Van Arsdale. "We are part of the Economic Development Division of the college. The whole concept is to get businesses started that provide jobs for the region."

For more information on First Monday, contact the Entrepreneurial Development Center at 717-221-1311.

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