Small start-up businesses win grants, management counseling from Partners for Growth

Small start-up businesses win grants, management counseling from Partners for Growth

A company marketing newly patented, environmentally sound products, a dry cleaning and laundry business that will provide service and job training and the creator of a line of easy-to-wear clothing for the physically disabled were among the recipients of grants from Partners for Growth, a pilot program in Philadelphia and Houston that promotes small business and social responsibility. The program, created by the management consulting services division of the American Institute of CPAs and AT&T Capital Corp., offered a total of $50,000 in each city, to be divided among the winners.

Partners aims to improve the quality of community life in urban areas by awarding grants to new businesses that provide a social benefit, such as creating jobs in a depressed area.

In addition to the grants, the winners will receive free business counseling from local AICPA members who are management consultants. This is especially important because, as Joseph A. Puleo, managing partner of Puleo & Thompson, Hamden, Connecticut, and chairman of the AICPA MCS executive committee, noted, “Entrepreneurs start out with a dream of economic independence, but that vision must be refined by the realities facing a start-up. Factors such as government regulations, budgeting and taxes easily can be overlooked or inadequately addressed in the excitement of the new venture. Our program addresses this pitfall by providing a full year of counseling from CPA consultants for grant recipients.”

A new image in two cities

In addition to its impact on the awardees’ communities, Puleo, who is national Partners cospokesperson, said, “this program conveys the message that CPAs do much more than provide tax and audit services. We provide consulting services to small businesses, startups and businesses with a variety of concerns.”

In Philadelphia, a task force cochaired by sole practitioner Edward J. O’Grady and composed of MCS division members and AT&T Capital executives selected three winners from 123 applications. AICPA members John Woodcock of Philadelphia and John Yannacone of Delaware County, both sole practitioners, were also task force members.

In Houston, a task force cochaired by Larry R. Cook, a principal with Cook, Revia, Knox & Co. and a member of the MCS business valuations and appraisals subcommittee, selected four winners from 165 applications. The Houston task force also included AICPA members Clint Bateman, of Bateman & Co., Inc. and Sheila Root and Terry Stock, both CPA sole practitioners.

The Philadelphia story

In Philadelphia, Robert S. Whitman, founder of Protective Specialties Development Group, an environmental products company, received $20,000, as did Sharon Leonard Goodman, founder of The Niambi Doll Collection, a company that makes and sells hand-made African-American dolls.

Sheila Ballen, executive director of Touchstone/PIRG Fuel Buyers, a cooperative that negotiates reasonably priced home heating oil contracts, received $10,000.

The Houston program

Four entrepreneurs in Houston shared the $50,000 awarded.

Gladys Marie House received $20,000 to open a dry cleaning and laundry business in Freedmen’s Town, the city’s oldest African-American community. Laurie Husmann received a $15,000 grant to create a line of easy-to-wear clothing for the physically disabled.

Victoria D. Davis, director of Senior Support Services Inc., Garden Oaks Adult Activity Center, an adult day care center providing services for disabled adults and senior citizens, received $7,500, as did Mattie Marie Mason, administrator for New Life Perinatal Health Care Services, Inc., an organization that provides health care services to pregnant teenagers and sponsors programs encouraging young women to stay in school while teaching them parenting skills.

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