The Rim country business community has scored a major coup. The resources of SCORE, a business counseling program, are now available in Payson.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization of business professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to people who want to start their own businesses, and owners of existing businesses who need help solving problems.
The SCORE chapter based in Prescott has opened a branch office here and has three Payson residents serving as counselors. The Payson branch is already helping its first client.
Richard Lillie is the branch manager and will be counseling clients along with Bruce Hopkins and Jack Schranz.
"As former businessmen, we're thrilled to be able to offer our services to small-business owners in Payson and the surrounding area," said Lillie. "A lot of people have great ideas and just need a little guidance in how to establish a successful small business."
"Our counseling services are free and confidential," said John Rollo, management counselor for the Prescott SCORE office, which serves all of northern Arizona.
"A modest fee is charged for the workshops we present," Rollo said. These will be offered in Payson after the first of the year. The workshop topics include marketing, beginning business, finance and accounting, establishing a business plan and similar subjects.
"Specialty experts are available through SCORE along with our counselors," Rollo said, "So we have an incredible array of business experience and skills to share."
The Payson SCORE office is at 122 E. Highway 260, Suite 110 in the Payson Village Shopping Center. The space is being provided by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. It is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, with counselors available at other times by appointment. To schedule a meeting with one of the Payson counselors, call (800) 410-2260. Meetings can be at the SCORE office or elsewhere at the convenience of the client.
Depending on the number of clients needing SCORE assistance, "We want about a dozen counselors in about 18 months," Rollo said.
"We'd also like to move further up the Rim, but right now we're concentrating on Payson," Lillie said. SCORE does not yet have a presence in the Show Low area or in Globe.
Rollo said the Prescott SCORE chapter also provides counseling over the Internet.
The Payson SCORE office is a member of the Payson Regional Chamber of Commerce and will be working with the Gila Community College Small Business Development Center.
"Having a SCORE branch in Payson will be a great benefit for new small-business owners, as well as existing business owners who need assistance," said Judy Miller, of the GCC business development center.
"There's a great interest in this community in the kinds of services SCORE offers and I look forward to the opportunity to offer co-counseling with SCORE and joint programs in various business practices," Miller said.
"We're unique in our relationships with colleges like Gila Community and Yavapai Community," Rollo said, "There is often elsewhere a schism between SCORE and the neighboring colleges. Here they are very cooperative and we look forward to working with them."
SCORE, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., has 389 chapters across the United States, and in Guam and Puerto Rico as well.
For more information, call (800) 410-2260 or log onto www.scorearizona.org/northern_az.