June 22, 2004
Mary Anne Van Arsdale has joined HACC, central Pennsylvania's community college, as director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Workforce & Economic Development division.

Women's business advocate, counselor, teacher and published author, Van Arsdale is based in HACC's Penn Center in uptown Harrisburg with the Entrepreneur Development Center and Women's Marketplace.

The Entrepreneur Development Center offers free business start-up counseling, programs and training.

"We work with businesses from concept to three years of age - the period of business incubation - and offer counseling on marketing, the business plan, financial projections, format for the business, and management skills," said Van Arsdale.

The Women's Marketplace assists women entrepreneurs with free marketing, sales and advertising counseling, including implementation and execution of the marketing plan. The purpose of the program is to increase the income and success rate of women-owned businesses in Pennsylvania. Individual counseling is available from counselors with business start-up experience.

The unique thing about HACC's program is that it will work with clients at the very early stage when no decisions have yet been made, other than to have a business. Most other programs providing entrepreneurial assistance will not work with clients until they decide on a business.

"HACC is different," says Van Arsdale. "We see the client before the other organizations work with them. We help them determine if the business will survive. Our focus on women and just on marketing is also unique across the state. We help women start and grow effective businesses to grow effective revenue."

About 40 clients receive individual counseling each week at the Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies.

Some want to start businesses part-time, but many want to grow the business and have it be a full-time occupation. Counselors can help determine whether there's a market and assist with market research - before money is borrowed or a business plan completed.

Counselors might ask questions such as whether the client wants to buy a business, go the franchise route, or start their own business.

They may start with several ideas of businesses and ask, "Is there a market? A large enough market? Is it feasible? Can it generate the kind of revenue that will meet your satisfaction? Is this the kind of business that customers will want to buy from? Can you continue to provide the product or service?"

"First Monday" is also offered on the first Monday of each month from 9 - 11 a.m. At that time, anyone can walk in and receive free counseling hours with no appointment.

Women owning more than 50% of a business are eligible for services, including counseling for those starting a business or in business less than one year. All women-owned businesses can take advantage of the credit and non-credit educational programs.

"Women are starting businesses at a record-breaking pace but they still lag behind others in sales and profits," said Van Arsdale, who has spent the past 30 years in entrepreneurial assistance as a practitioner, program developer, administrator and author.

Van Arsdale says women tend to choose different kinds of businesses than their male counterparts, often service and retail businesses where they are undercapitalized and the income rewards don't come for several years. Their small business size and limited income also often prohibit them from hiring marketing and advertising assistance.

Van Arsdale has served as a marketing and business planning consultant to more than 2,000 businesses of all types and in various stages of business growth. She also has taught college marketing, advertising and public relations courses at the graduate and undergraduate level for 14 years. In 1993, she was named among the Capital Region's Best Women in Business and Industry.

Prior to her move to HACC, Van Arsdale was women's business advocate in the Center for Entrepreneurial Assistance, for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. There she worked to encourage the creation, expansion and retention of women-owned businesses as a part of Pennsylvania's overall economic development strategy.

She assisted individual women business owners in resolving issues with state agencies, exploring marketing options and identifying financing strategies.

She also administered the statewide "PA Best 50 Women" program and provided support for local and regional recognition and educational programs for women.

Van Arsdale served as program manager, Entrepreneurial Assistance, for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, a Commonwealth program serving entrepreneurs in 34 counties.

She also was the founding director of the Murata Business Center, the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation incubator project in Cumberland County, and has consulted and served numerous small business development centers.

Van Arsdale holds master's and bachelor's degrees in Communications from Rowan University, NJ. She currently resides in Perry County.

Information on the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies can be obtained by calling 717-221-1311.

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Did You Know?

  • There are over 218,000 women-owned businesses in Pennsylvania. They employ more than 246,000 people. About 26% of all businesses in PA are owned by women.
  • PA is 7th in the nation for the number of women-owned businesses.
  • There are more than 6.2 million businesses (majority) owned by women in the U.S. employing over 9 million people.
  • Over 1.2 million businesses are owned by women of color.
  • The number of women-owned firms in the U.S. increased by 14% in the past 5 years.
  • The primary reason women state for starting a business is the need for independence.
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